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Full text of "The proverbs of John Heywood. Being the "Proverbes" of that author printed 1546. Ed., with notes and introduction"

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" Then doth he licke his lippes and stroke his beard, 

That's glewed together with his slavering droppes 

Of yestie ale, and when he scarce can trim 

His goutie fingers thus hee'l fillip it, 

And with a rotten hem, say ' hey, my hearts !' 

Merrie go sorrie ! cocke and pye, my heart ! ' 

But then their saving pennie proverbe comes." 

Two Angry Women ofAbington t 1599. 
















| HE traditions of old Saxon literature 
had never been obliterated by rust 
or utterly defaced by invasion; even 
after the toll of the curfew, there yet 
lingered round the Saxon embers the 
homely folk-speech of Jutes and Angles. But the 
hidden graces of that English tongue no English 
Aristotle had attempted to uncover. No earlier 
Erasmus had arisen to restore the gems of speech 
and learning ; no English Quintilian to knit the 
scattered threads of idiom together. Everywhere 
where the English independence was subjected, was 
the English language as effectually despised. 


Yet the Norman in proscribing the ancient literature 
could hardly hope to extirpate the ancient ways of 
thought. Still less could he hope to interrupt that 
flow of tears and laughter, the pathos and the humour 
which proceed from thought. We know that what- 
ever _was memorable or captivating in the old-world 
literature was accustomed to be recited, until the 
sense of property in such compositions becoming 
gradually lost, that grew to be the wit of many 
which had formerly been the wisdom of one. Such 
perpetual assumption of authorship would have been 
in itself sufficient to protect that verbal literature 
from desuetude, even had not the professional 
farceur worked mightily towards its preservation. 
The shrewd maxims of their Saxon forefathers had 
indeed been given over to the use of the meanest 
of the people's literary caterers, and as the common 
stock of glee-men and ale-poets, still continued to 
mingle with mirth and revel as they had done since 
the days of the Heptarchy. But in the popular 
adherence to the old charms of. speech, we think we 
perceive a restless importunity to bestow, as it were, 
upon a fitting recipient that priceless heirloom vener- 
able by reverence and by antiquity. Antiquity was 
dead, but not without issue. Already patient monas- 
tics had begun to embalm the decaying Saxon saws 


and sentences in hideous cerements of rhyming Latin ; 
and to the antiquary who to-day unravels the leonine 
verses they have wrought for us, will stand revealed 
the sprightly sayings of mediaeval England. In this 
process we are reminded of nothing so much as the 
account given by our first Arctic navigator of the 
prodigious thawing of words and consonants that had 
long remained congealed in the atmosphere during 
the winter nights. In the wintry night of the Norman 
conquest, the direction of the English mind was one 
long effort to perpetuate and to transmit the pith 
and saltness of its bygone literature. An arm is 
stretched out, as it were, across three centuries the 
heirloom so often proffered is as often refused 
until the chattel at last is seized, and that by the 
hand of Chaucer. It might be idle to assert for an 
object so immaterial so definite a claim to antiquity, 
but w r e are not unwilling to believe that the same 
vein of wit and cunning which gives vitality to essen- 
tially English pages, from a Chaucer to a Dickens, is 
part and parcel of the very mine of wisdom whose 
produce the followers of Hengist bore away from 
Old Saxony. 

But the soil wherein the Saxon stem was planted 
may still perhaps be bearing herbage of a widely dif- 
ferent undergrowth. The doctrines of the Druids, 


preserved only by verbal narration, did not altogether 
perish at the destruction of the Druidic priesthood. In 
the maxims of Old Gaul and in the cherished sayings 
of Wales and Cornwall, some little of that traditional 
wisdom remains. The proverbial triads of the Cymri 
still perpetuate some facts of history. That the 
settlers from the " Summer Land," from the Tauric 
Chersonese, descended here upon these islands is 
recorded in the Druidic triads. That they recoiled 
before the invasions of Romans and of Irishmen is 
there also deplored ; and together with these his- 
torical relics are mingled an abundant crop of 
Druidic maxims, the condensation of ancient British 

Another, and undeniably the merriest contributor, 
has contributed to the proverbial store-house. Two 
centuries previously, we read that a Duke of Normandy 
had sent a son to Bayeux to learn Danish ; under the 
earlier Plantagenets, the young Norman aristocracy 
might have visited England to learn French. The 
humbler Englishman may have possessed little apti- 
tude for acquiring the Norman speech, but even the 
Gurths and Wambas of the time could not fail to be 
attracted by the light and sparkle which glittered on 
the surface of the smoother tongue. If the Norman 
was the best sayer of fine things ; the Englishman 


was incomparably the best hearer of them. When 
the smack of novelty had once passed away, those 
crumbs of merriment which the Frenchman discarded 
were by the other gratefully retained. In truth the 
palate of the Norman was gratified only by the 
crispness and the unexpectedness of the saying. It 
was the Englishman alone who was capable of 
luxuriating in its perfect infinity of application. But 
what wonderful resources were displayed by the 
Norman mind ! The Saxon could look only to his 
glebe or his farmyard for a simile. The Frenchman 
had the run of the tavern, the boothie, and the play- 
house ; he brought away dainty morsels from the 
convent-cell ; he imported curious scholar-talk from 
Paris and Montpellier. 

Such, then, being the genealogy of our hereditary 
folk-lore, it will seem strange that the patrimony 
should at any time be liable to diminish. Neverthe- 
less it would appear to be the fact that for upwards of 
a hundred years the people's wisdom was rigidly 
expugned from whatever prints and writings were 
intended for preservation. The prejudice of Lord 
Chesterfield that a national proverb was not becoming 
to the conversation of a man of breeding, would seem 
to have held good as well for the fifteenth as for the 
eighteenth century. It was not until the second de- 


cade of the next century that our vernacular litera- 
ture again began to raise its head. In what measure 
the publication of Heywood's book contributed to 
the general restoration it is quite impossible to con- 
jecture, but it is not unreasonable to believe that its 
conservative influence was considerable. But here we 
may make room for a fine retrospect as it has been 
left us by two of the leading scholars of their day, 
Sir Thomas More and Roger Ascham. 

" In our forefather's tyme," says Ascham, " when 
Papistrie as a standyng poole, covered and overflowed 
all England, fewe bookes were read in our tong, 
savyng certaine bookes of Chevalrie, as they said, for 
pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made 
in monasteries by idle monkes or wanton chanons, as 
one for example, Morte Arthure: the whole pleasure 
of which booke standeth in two special poyntes ;' in 
open maunslaughter and bold bawdrye. In which 
booke, those be counted the noblest knightes that do 
kill most men without any quarrell and commit 
fowlest advoulteres by subtlest shiftes ; as Sir Launce- 
lote, with the wife of King Arthure, his master ; Syr 
Tristram, with the wife of Kynge Marke, his uncle ; 
Syr Lamerocke with the wife of King Lote, that was 
his owne aunte ... I know when God's Bible was 
banished the court, and Morte Arthure received into 
the Prince's chamber." 


Prior to him Sir Thomas More writes : " There is 
an use nowe a daies worse than amonge the Pagans, 
that bookes written in our mother's tonges, that be 
made but for idel men and women to read e, have none 
other matter but of war and love. . . . What a cus- 
tome is thys, that a song shall not be regarded, but it 
bee full of fylthynes, and this the lawes oughte to take 
hede of, and of those ungracious fokes, such as bee in 
my countrey in Spayne : Amadise, Florisande, Ti- 
rante, Tristane, and Celestina the baude, mother of 
naughtynes. In Fraunce : Launcelote du Lake, 
Paris and Vienna, Ponthus and Sidonia, and Mel- 
neyne. In Flanders : Flory and Whyte flowre : 
Leonell and Canomoure, Curias and Florete, Pyramus 
and Thisbe. In England : Parthenope, Genarides, 
Hippomadron, Willyam and Meliour, Livius and 
Arthur, Guye and Bevis, and many other, and some 
translated out of Latyne into vulgare speaches, as the 
unsavery conceites of Pogius, and of Aneas Silvius, 
Gurialus and Lucretia." 

Those monastic writings, which, as Ascham had 
heard, were the work of " wanton canons " or worth- 
less monks, had been too foreign in their antecedents 
to adhere to the idiom and racy phraseology of fore- 
going times. The volumes which proceeded from the 
presses of the early printers were frequently the 


most inhistoric of histories or the most wearisome 
of romances. But already in Germany and in our 
own country, Polydore Vergil and Erasmus had 
begun to garner up the treasured sayings of classical 
antiquity; and the laureate Skelton, himself a sage 
and a classic, had preferred to sound a note better 
attuned to the public ear and more pleasing to the 
popular imagination. The author of Elinour Rum- 
myng had taken up the lyre of Chaucer, not indeed as 
Chaucer, but as Lydgate had dropped it. Then came 
John Heywood. A protege of Sir Thomas More, 
and a familiar intimate of Skelton, Heywood might 
well impart to the chancellor, at his house at Chelsea, 
selections from the fund of- grotesque ribaldry which 
he had previously heard, say, at the notorious Three 
Cranes. Skelton had set the fashion for coarse 
rhymes ; Heywood made coarse rhymes fashionable. 
There is little doubt that, after the appearance of 
/ Hey wood's book in 1546, a new idea or influence was 
set working in English literature. It was not, indeed, 
that the work possessed intrinsic merit, or that its 
appearance was attended with circumstances of public 
interest. Rather was it that the author was by means 
of this work reminding the public of a property 
which the owners were inadvertently losing. That 
same meaning which the romancers before him had 


attempted to explain with an allegory, Hey wood could 
promptly convey in a proverb. The romancers were 
rejected; Heywood's volume was hailed with acclaim. 
It became the most popular of all popular books. 
Ten times it was sent to press during the sixteenth 
century. Immediately on its appearance it gave a 
fillip to the nation's appetite for literary enjoyment ; 
poets, play-writers, and statesmen made capital of 
its mine of proverbs. The Elizabethan dramatists 
are brimming with them. One orator delivered a 
speech in the House of Commons in which a proverb 
formed the substance of every sentence. Proverbs 
were adopted everywhere as devices for tapestry, as 
mottoes for knives, as inscriptions for rings and keep- 
sakes. Shakespeare speaks of a moderate poetaster 
as one 

whose poesy was 

For all the world like cutler's poetry 
Upon a knife, Love me and leave me not. 

It cannot be pretended that the volume before us 
has other claims to respect besides the extraneous 
one of its being the first assemblage of our colloquial 
sayings. The due transmission of proverbs, and even 
catch-words, unmutilated from age to age, has excited 
so much enquiry of late in the pages of our periodicals, 
that the editor believes that this attempt at restoring 


an ancient literary landmark will meet with approba- 
tion from other gleaners in the same field of anti- 
quarianism. He also believes, with respect to the 
accompanying glosses, that so considerable a collec- 
tion of proverbial antiques has not hitherto been 
brought together. His reason for setting aside the 
accumulations of trite sayings in classical or oriental 
literature is that our own in early English possess a 
relationship far less equivocal. Little could be gained 
by illustrating English idiom from the mots dores of 
a Solon or a Pythagoras ; less, by illustrating it from 
a Zoroaster or a Confucius. Though it may be 
gratifying to discover that the simile of " no stone 
unturned " proceeds from a reply of the Delphic 
oracle, or that the homely figure of " a pinching 
shoe" takes rise from a passage in the Lives of 
Plutarch, yet it can be no less interesting to learn 
that Saint Jerome forebore to look a gift-horse in 
the mouth, or that the proverbial distich chanted by 
the insurgents in Wat Tyler's rebellion is found in 
a Teutonic dress in the German proverbs of Agricola. 
To any reader of the dramatists, who is at the same 
time acquainted with Heywood's collection, a curious 
incident of authorship will be apparent. Such, at 
least, we take to be that similarity between certain 
passages in Heywood's book and passages in the 


writings of the more prominent authors of a later 
day. Both Heywood's work and the extent of its 
popularity were well known to Shakespeare, but it is 
not seen that the great master availed himself of the 
literary leanings of his audience in order to secure 
the applause which almost invariably follows on the 
recognition of the adopted sentences of a popular 
author. Not so Ben Jonson. In the play of East- 
ward Hoe, which that author composed in conjunc- 
tion with Marston and Chapman, the dramatist seems 
purposely to have opened a page of Heywood that 
he might point the dialogue of his smartest charac- 
ters. The same tacit understanding existing between 
audience and actors as would seem to exist at the 
present day, we can imagine the hum of approbation 
which followed the delivery of each well-worn saying. 
A quotation from one of the more farcical parts of 
Eastward Hoe is almost parallel to Heywood's 
Proverbs : 

Touchstone. I heare your knight errant is traveld on strange 
adventures. Surely, in my mind, your ladiship hath "fisht faire, 
and caught afrogge? as the saying is. 


Girtnide. Come away, I say, u hunger drops out at his nose" 
Goulding. O, madam, "Faire words never hurt the tongue." 
Girtrude. How say you that ? You come out with your golde 
ends now ! 



Mistress T. Stay, lady, daughter ; good husband ! 

Touchstone. Wife, no man loves his fetters , be they made of 
gold. I list not ha' my head fastned under my child's girdle ; 
as shee has brew'd, so let her drinke, a God's name. She went 
witlesse to wedding, now she may goe wisely a begging. It is 
but hony-moone yet with her ladiship : she has coach horses, 
apparel, jewels yet left : she needs care for no friends, nor take 
knowledge of father, mother, brother, sister, or any body. When 
those are pawn'd or spent, perhaps we shall returne into the liste 
of her acquaintance. 

Girtrude. I scorne it, i' faith. Come, Sinne. \Exit Girtrude. 

Mistress T. O, madam, why doe you provoke your father 
thus ? 

Touchstone. Nay, nay, eene let pride go afore: shame tuil 
follow after, I warrant you. Come, why doest thou weepe now? 
Thou art not the first good cow hast had an il calfe, I trust. 

The same observation would apply to portions of 
Henry Porter's best-known comedy, The Two Angry 
Women of Abington, which, obscure as it yet is, is 
mentioned by Charles Lamb as being no whit inferior 
to the earliest performances of Shakespeare. It is full 
of business, humour, and merry malice. 

It is now time to pass from the consideration of 
the indirect influence of Heywood's work, to detail 
some particulars of his career, and notably in his 
capacity of dramatic author. 

" Was not Heywood a satirist?" asks one of the 


characters in Mr. Payne Collier's skilful work, The 
Poetical Decameron. 

" I presume you mean the elder John Heywood," 
rejoins another. 

" I mean that Heywood who is the author of one 
of the most witty and entertaining pieces in Dodsley's 

Turning to the theatrical repository here mentioned, 
we discover that the performance which has so de- 
servedly procured Mr. Collier's eulogy is the one 
bearing the eccentric title of Four P's. The further 
title one is involuntarily reminded by it of the tra- 
ditional three R's proceeds to explain that the piece 
is a facetious dialogue held between a Pardoner, a 
Palmer, a Pothicary, and a Pedler. It is worthy of 
note that though written by one of the most rigid and 
bigoted of Catholics and at a time when the tumult 
f opinions was at its height, the satire of this 
lay is especially directed against the abuses of the 
Lomish communion. As a Catholic of the sixteenth 
entury Heywood went further than a Protestant of 
next, in exposing and bringing to just ridicule the 
nemies alike of the old faith and the new. The re- 
gious charlatan who could open the gates of heaven 
'ith the rich man's purse-strings ; the sanctimonious 
uack who purchased ease and affluence by a sys- 


tematic trifling with the souls of his community; 
these and other types of the monastic character, 
unhappily but too abundant in his day, found little 
mercy from the unscrupulous yet unvindictive satire 
of Hey wood. 

A speech of the Palmer opens the comedy : 

At Hierusalem have I bene, 

Before Chryste's blessed sepulture ; 
The mount of Calvary have I sene, 

A holy place ye may be sure. 


Then at Rhodes also I was, 

And round about to Armas, 

At Saynt Toncomber and Saynt Tronion, 

At Saynt Botolph and Saynt Anne of Buckston. 

On the hylles of Armeny, where I saw Noe's arke, 

With holy Job and Saynt George in South warke, 

And at the good rood of Dagnam. 

He is interrupted by the Pardoner assuring him 
that such remote pilgrimages are altogether un- 
necessary for securing salvation. He might have 
obtained pardon and stayed at home. 

Geve me but a peny or two pens, 

And as sone as the soule depart eth hens, 

In halfe an houre, or three quarters at the moste, 

The soule is in heaven with the Holy Ghost. 

The Poticary and the Pedler then join the com- 
pany; each begins to assert for himself a superior claim 


to the gratitude of his fellows. " Whose agency is 
more potent in love ?" urges the Pedler. " That is of 
first importance in the affairs of this world," so admits 
the Poticary, " but who is it but myself who hastens 
so many people to the next?" At last tired of dis- 
puting their pre-eminence, it is agreed that the dis- 
putants shall compete for the mastery by telling fibs ; 
the greatest liar to be thenceforth recognized as chief 
and primus of this exemplary four. The task, says 
the Pedler, cannot be a heavy one, as they are all 
accustomed to it ; while he, possessing no little skill 
in the art of lying, is constituted umpire. It having 
Deen decided to make the trial in succession, the 
Pardoner takes the lead by relating the virtues of 
lis relics. His inventions concerning the jaw-bone 
All Hallows and the slippers of the Seven Sleepers 
are acknowledged as belonging merely to the class of 
respectable mediocrity. But no sooner is the Poticary 
called on for his lie, than he declares the Palmer to 
an honest man. This was indeed a falsehood of 
the first magnitude, but it is confessed by the umpire 
that he is still unable to determine the quantity of 
credit exactly due to each. To meet the difficulty it 
is proposed that each shall recount some marvellous 
adventure, not apocryphal at all, but falling within 
the strict letter of fact 


The Poticary who leads off with a story of a won- 
derful cure is soon distanced by the recital of the 
Pardoner. This worthy seriously details the circum- 
stances of a visit to hell which he had undertaken tc 
regain the soul of a lamented lady intimate : 

A frende of myne, and lykewyse I 
To her agayne was as frendly. 

He had first, he said, enquired at the gates of purgatory 
whether a person answering to the description which 
he gave of her had recently been admitted ; but when 
informed to the contrary : 

Alas ! thought I, she is in hell ; 

For with her lyfe I was so acqueynted 

That sure I thought she was not saynted. 

He had accordingly hastened to that locality, where 
recognizing an old acquaintance in the porter at the 
gate, he procures a free passport to traverse the sa- 
tanic realm. Walking arm-in-arm with his old 
associate, the Pardoner approaches a spot where the 
denizens of hell are celebrating an infernal orgy 
There he is cordially received by the genius of the 
place, Lucifer himself, and the Pardoner presently 
advances his suit. He will do the devil a good turn 
on earth, so he bargains, if in consideration for these 
promised services, his Majesty will release a certain 


soul from his dominions. When told that it is a 
female soul, nothing can exceed the delight of Lucifer. 
No subjects, he declares, occasion more disquiet to 
the reign of Satafi than the women souls whom weary 
earth consigns him. He requests, even implores, that 
the Pardoner will send none other of that sex to dis- 
turb his subjects' harmony, a wish that the other 
readily promises to respect. Accordingly the woman 
is made over to her deliverer, who escorts her to 
Newmarket Heath, and there leaves her to her own 

It had appeared to the Pardoner that this piece of 
mendacity was far too brazen for the remaining 
competitors to surpass, when the Palmer, commenting 
on the other's recital, lets fall the stupid observation 
that in a long lifetime he had never seen a woman 
out of patience. In later times it would be regarded 
as singularly the reverse of a fitting climax that a 
drama so skilfully constructed should terminate with 
so feeble a situation ; but, in the days of John Hey- 
wood, stage exigencies were abundantly satisfied by 
such a finale as we see contrived by the irony of the 
blundering Palmer. 

The interlude of Heywood's which contains in- 
ternal proof of having been first written is the Mery 
Playe betwene the Pardoner and the Frere, the Ciirate 


and neybour Pratte. The fact of Leo X. being 
mentioned in it as then living fixes the date of its 
production prior to 1521. Like the interlude we 
have just noticed, it is conceived in a tone of deep 
hostility to the established clergy. Like that again 
its intention is to expose the mischievous impostures 
of the mendicant orders. A friar and a professional 
pardon-monger have taken possession of a church, 
the one to exhort the congregation to benevolence, 
the other to find purchasers for his saintly relics. 
The friar is already enlarging on the poverty of his 
order when the pardoner interrupts the harangue by 
proclaiming the pretended virtues of his receipts and 
nostrums. 1 The great toe of the Trinity and the 
articles of wearing apparel once belonging to the 
Virgin are amongst the most startling of the Par- 
doner's relics, a complete catalogue of which is inter- 
rupted by the obstinate determination of the mendicant 
to obtain a hearing. The friar taunts his adversary 
with the publication of " a ragman's roll of lies," as 
he emphatically expresses it. The mendicant replies 
with blows, and the two are coming to close combat 

1 Mr. F. J. Furnivall writing in Notes and Queries, (4th S. IX. 
177) draws attention to the fact that Hey wood has incorporated 
into the Pardoner's speech lines 49-100 of CHAUCER'S Pardoner's 


when the curate, who has been informed of the dis- 
turbance, rushes into church thinking to lay violent 
hands on the monastic. " Let me alone with this 
gentleman/' cries his reverence, at the same time 
enjoining Master Pratte, who at this juncture appears 
on the scene, to deal severely with the layman. It 
is disappointing to find in the conclusion that the 
two charlatans, better accustomed to the practice of 
pugilism, fare best in the encounter and are suffered 
to march off on their several ways. 

Two pieces we have next to notice would purport, 
from their structural simplicity, to be a product of an 
almost aboriginal period of the drama. In neither is 
there promise of an acted story, nor as they proceed 
is there any indication of plot or circumstance. Alike 
devoid of " business," the simplest stage appliances 
are the only requisites for their production. Con- 
sidered as spectacles, the Play of the Wether and 
the Play of Love seem equally unlikely to afford 
attraction, but when we consider that these popular 
performances amounted to nothing but argumentative 
and interminable conversations, we must suppose 
such audiences as they did actually command to 
have had a keener appreciation for logical subtilty 
than any that have since been collected within the 
walls of a play-house. 


The Play of the Wether gives us a curious table of 

dramatis persona, which, as it is not a lengthy one, 
may be here set out. 

Jupiter, a god. 

Merry Reporte, the vyce. 

The gentylman. 

The marchaunt. 

The ranger. 

The water myller. 

The wynde myller. 

The gentylwoman. 

The launder. 

A boy the lest that can play. 

The scene opens by Jupiter appearing and pro- 
ceeding, after the manner of a chorus, to explain the 
argument of the drama. So great vexation, he de- 
clares, had been occasioned to mortals through the 
perverse disposition of the elements that he had 
summoned the rulers of the firmament to his judg- 
ment seat to answer the charges that had previously 
been preferred against them. Having appeared at 
the time appointed, each had complained that his 
individual endeavours to promote the happiness of 
man were constantly thwarted by the action of his 
companions in the celestial government. Saturn 
had charged Phoebus with melting the morning 
frost and rendering the labour of the night useless. 
Phoebus had exclaimed against Phoebe, whose 


showers, he complained, were alike prejudicial to 
the workings both of frost and heat. Instead of re- 
senting this imputation, Phoebe made common cause 
with the other complainants, and together they fell 
foul of Eolus. He, they said, 

When he is dysposed his blastes to blow 
Suffereth neyther sone shyne, rayne nor snow. 

Jupiter, then, had been invited to arrange the dif- 
ferences, and has descended to earth that he might 
consider the petitions of such among the mortals 
as were aggrieved by the elemental caprices. Merry 
Reporte, a certain mercurial intelligence, acts as 
medium between Jupiter and the suppliants, and it is 
with the spoken commentary of this personage that 
the play now concerns itself. The first suitor is a 
" gentylman " desiring clear weather without cloud 

or mist, 

nor no wynde to blow 
For hurt in hys huntynge. 

The merchant prayed for a "mesurable wynde." As 
for the ranger, he was so blinded by private interest 
as plainly to say 

there bloweth no wynde at al ; 
while the water-miller exclaimed that 

the wynde was so stout 
The rayne could not fall ; 


a statement politely contradicted by the wind-miller, 

Who sayd for the rayne he could no wynde wyn ; 
The water he wysht to be banysht all. 

But an applicant of a different complexion was the 
"goodly dame," who desired neither rain nor sunshine, 

But fayre close wether her beautye to save ; 
And the last to appeal were the schoolboy, who 
wished for nothing better than frost or snowballing, 
and the poor woman 

that lyveth by laundry, 
Who must have wether hot 
And clere her clothys to dry. 

In the end, Jupiter promises to institute such a dis- 
posal of the elements that all trades in due season 
may prosper without injury one to another. 

It may here be observed that all the " business " of 
this comedy is supposed to be transpiring away from 
the stage, or else to have already taken place. It is 
in effect nothing but a long recitation, the variety of 
characters being useful only as supplying the appro- 
priate reliefs in speaking it. At the close, a mutual 
understanding is come to and all parties are satisfied 
and depart 

Nearly three hundred years of neglect must have 
passed over all knowledge of the Play of Love, when 
a unique copy was accidentally discovered by the 


librarian at the Bodleian Library. Here again are 
found the same mythical and abstract personages, 
the same creations who monopolized the drama in its 
earlier stages, and who were for ever superseded 
when interlude was displaced by comedy. 

A Lover not Beloved and the object of his regard, a 
Woman Beloved not Loving, discourse upon the rela- 
tive painfulness of their respective states of feeling. 
The lady with more charity, and with nearly as little 
reason as her pursuer, insists that the more pain falls 
to the lot of those who are the objects of a passion 
which they cannot reciprocate. The audience may 
have felt a desire to know more of this philosophic 
maiden, but could not fail to agree with the Lover 
not Beloved when he replies 

I say and will verefy, 
Of all pains the most incomparable pain, 
Is to be a lover not loved again. 

The conflict of opinions is now heightened by the 
appearance of the Lover Loved, an anxious though 
self-satisfied character, and Neither Loved nor Loving, 
a personage who bears the burden of the comic portion 
of the play. The former, having thus avowed complete 
satisfaction with his condition, 

love is my feader, 

Love is my lord, and love is my leader ! 


meets with direct contradiction from the perfectly 
absolute Neither Loved nor Loving, who intimates 
that the other does not know his own mind, and that 
his alone is the most peaceful situation. The denoue- 
ment shows all parties agreeing to regard one another 
on an equality of happiness and misfortune. The few 
words spoken to the audience at the end of the drama 
bespeak a high standard of stage morality in the first 
years of the sixteenth century: 

Since such contention may hardly accord 

In such kind of love as here hath been meant, 

Let us seek the Love of that loving Lord, 
Who to suffer passion for love was content. 

A Mery Play between Johan Johan, the Husbande ; 
Tyb, his Wyfe ; and Syr jfhon, the Freest, is certainly 
the most farcical and not the least amusing of Hey- 
wood's pieces. It is also one of the coarsest ; but its 
coarseness is of a kind that would be found enter- 
taining in no age but the age which produced it, and 
even then is too imprudent to be morally hurtful or 
offensive. This meagre play, in spite of its obscenity, 
or perhaps by reason of its obscenity, yet remains a 
relic of an order of things that have long passed 
away, and brings down to us a Savour of ideas that 
have long since perished. The rural clergyman, whose 
visits were as dreaded at the homestead as a descent 


by caterans on the granary or poultry yard, had 
actually a beau-ideal in sixteenth century life. The 
type of character was so fully recognized, and was 
held to furnish such excellent staple for buffoonery, 
that right reverend prelates did not feel it derogatory 
from their calling to witness a popular expose of the 
peccadilloes of their own clergy. Of the piece before 
us it is sufficient to say that the village priest does 
not fail to answer expectation both in his conversation 
and behaviour, neither can we perceive him to be 
the least distinguishable from the hero of the story. 

The last of Heywood's pieces, one which yet 
remains a manuscript in the Harleian Library, is a 
dialogue between three persons, named respectively 
John, James, and Jerome. The title which has more 
lately been bestowed on this performance is A Dialogue 
on Wit and Folly ; John arguing the superiority of the 
life of a wise man, and James maintaining the greater 
comfort of the witless one. The latter defends the 
strong position that pain of body is less grievous than 
that of mind. But, replies John, 

The student's pain is oft pleasantly mixt 
In feeling what fruit by his study is fixt. 

To which James, with an ability which proclaims him 
in no way allied to the "witless" whose cause he 
argues, makes reply, 


The laborers labour quiteth that at a whip 
In feeling the fruit of his workmanship. 
As much delight carters in carts neat trimmed 
As do students in books with gold neat limned. 

Adding, with no little feeling, 

Less is the peril and less is the pain 

The knocking of knuckles which fingers doth strain, 

Than digging in the heart, or drying of the brain. 

Before dismissing the plays of John Heywood, it is 
incumbent on us to notice this author's position with 
regard to the history of the English stage. He is, 
unless we greatly err, the originator, nay, the inventor 
^of our native drama. That distinction, once accorded 
to the author of Gammer Gurton in 1560, to the 
author of Roister Bolster y to the author of Misogenus, 
may safely be transferred from their unconscious 
shoulders to those of the author of the Four P's t 
about the year 1530. It is true that stage perform- 
ances, with play-book and words, with scaffolding 
and apparatus, had existed long before the time of 
Heywood. They had existed, as they will always 
continue to exist, wherever men are obedient to the 
instinct of personation. They existed in Troy, in 
Thebes, in Baalbec, if, as we may believe, that in 
those cities men took delight in identifying them- 
selves with imaginary characters more or less debased 

IN TROD UC TION. xxxiii 

or exalted. But as yet in England, no play or 
comedy, that is, no spoken story, had ever been con- 
ceived by dramatist, or entered into the heart of man 
to perform. Selections from the Old and New Testa- 
ments ; from the Pentateuch, and from the Apocalypse, 
had for generations been represented, and had quite 
succeeded in satisfying the popular notion of what 
was demanded in a stage play. But these Biblical 
performances must have differed from the product of 
the later drama in the same way that a street recita- 
tion by an old Greek rhapsodist must have differed 
from a performance of the Electra. People in this 
country were so satisfied with a mimic representation 
of the deluge, or the miracle of the loaves and fishes, 
that they overlooked the fact that additional amuse- 
ment might be gained by closely following the drama 
of antiquity. The models were actually in their pos- 
session, and yet the owners did not bethink them- 
selves to copy. But when we recollect the half-serious 
moral that is banteringly conveyed in Charles Lamb's 
most charming essay ; when we remember the interval 
that elapsed in the progress of printing between the 
period of block-books and the obvious advance to 
type that was movable, we cannot be surprised at the 
gap subsisting between the two ages of the drama, or 
wonder at the two thousand years that had almost 


elapsed before the Mencechmi of Plautus had de- 
veloped into the Comedy of Errors. 

The line of demarcation between the two periods of 
stage history must of necessity be an arbitrary one. 
We prefer to place it at the point where the Bible 
disappears from the hustings and secular subjects are 
for the first time introduced. Following our own 
rule, we shall have no hesitation in claiming the play 
of the Pardoner and the Frere as our earliest comedy, 
and distinguishing Heywood as our earliest dramatic 
author. Though forestalled in this respect in other 
countries of Europe, Heywood may still be said to 
have beaten his forerunners on the score of origi- 
nality. Heywood's plays are Gothic in their extrac- 
tion; those of his contemporaries on the continent 
draw vitality from Rome and Athens. In France, 
so soon as the Confrerie de la Passion had found 
strength to throw off its spiritual encumbrances, the 
stage was burdened with Medeas and Agamemnons. 
In Germany as yet no drama had arisen, but in Italy 
both Trissino and Rucellai drew boldly on the come- 
dies of Terence. Heywood, on the contrary, looked 
only for his characters to the heroes of the fields and 
hedge-rows. They accordingly are most usually 
either tramps, or parsons, or cozeners; but his success 
depending only upon the plaudits of citizen and 


apprentice, of Cheapside madam or Wapping "waist- 
coatier," it is not greatly remarkable that a hearty 
reception was accorded. 

We know not for how long the plays of John 
Heywood continued to hold the stage, but they 
must inevitably have fallen into discredit upon the 
first approach of the Elizabethans. In 1633, exactly a 
century after the publication of Heywood's plays, we 
find Ben Jonson, in the last play which he was ever 
permitted to give to the world, pointing unmerited 
ridicule at the name of Heywood. The play in which 
Jonson satirises our author is the Tale of a Tub, and 
the scene is that in which the wise men of Finsbury 
are arranging the preliminaries of a new piece which 
they have undertaken to exhibit, with the Tale of a 
Tub as its title. Its author, 

Medlay the joiner, 
The only man at a disguise in Middlesex, 

by whom Inigo Jones is intended, considers it 
necessary to view the tubs and washing appliances 
the better to stimulate his imagination. The squire 
accordingly directs them to inspect his washhouse, 

Spare us no cost, either in boards or hoops 
To architect your tub : have you ne'er a cooper 
At London, call'd Vitruvius ? send for him : 
Or old John Heywood, call him to you to help. 


In searching for a clue to our author's parentage, 
we gave preference to the neighbourhood of the court 
as the place wherein to discover the parents or family 
connections who would naturally have been the means 
of procuring him his early employment in the house- 
hold. Two persons of his name are found mentioned 
in the State papers, both being under rather than 
above the middle station, and both being dependents 
in the royal establishment. One is a William Hey- 
wood, yeoman of the guard, whose name is constantly 
occurring as the receiver of sixpence a day, seemingly 
some perquisite of a yeoman of the crown. In a 
curious account, which, among other items, also re- 
cords a payment to " The Boy Bishop at West- 
minster," this sixpenny fee appears converted into a 
permanent pension. 

The one other Heywood whose position might be 
supposed to tally with that of the father of the pro- 
verbialist, is a William Heywood, described as " King's 
joiner " in the entries of the treasury accounts. In 
1514, this individual was at work on the "Great 
Harry ; " and six years later, at the pageant of the Field 
of the Cloth of Gold, he held a place in the retinue 
of the King. The position, it is true, he shared in 
company of " yeomen bit-makers " and " sergeant 
saddlers ;" and the pay of twelve-pence per day which 


he received while on this expedition, would seem to 
bespeak him of the class of skilled mechanics. It re- 
mains quite conjectural whether either of these persons 
can be identified as John Heywood's relative ; but we 
cannot think it improbable that the father of the 
" singing-man" at court was no other than this 
William Heywood, engaged, as we find him to have 
been, in supplying furniture and equipments to the 
king's buffoons at Greenwich and St. James'. 

In the first years of the reign of Henry VIII., four 
separate companies of comedians were maintained for 
the royal amusement. Two only were established on 
a permanent footing ; the two others, namely, the 
" Gentlemen " and the " Children " of the Chapel, 
playing occasionally, and receiving respectively ;io, 
and 6 13^. ^d. for their performances. Attached to 
this latter company of performers we find John Hey- 
wood, who must have been quite a child at the date 
(1515), when the book of payments first makes men- 
tion of him. He then drew eight-pence a day as his 
salary. Five years later, he is receiving a quarterly 
income of one hundred shillings, that amount ap- 
pearing to have been ''synger wages," as a manuscript 
pay-book now in the chapter-house at Westminster 
has chronicled it. So small however is the stock of 
knowledge that we actually possess with regard to 

xxxviii I NT ROD UCTION. 

John Heywood, that from a passing allusion in a 
comedy, we are ready to infer that at this period he 
had already commenced the business of a play-writer ; 
and it is perhaps the same paucity of materials which 
makes us willing to conclude that he had started as an 
independent manager, when, a few years subsequently, 
we find a sensible deduction in the amount of his 
regular salary. 

On comparing the receipts of Heywood with others 
of a like nature, we discover the sum of 20 per 
annum to have been the amount of honorarium usually 
bestowed. Such is the sum paid annually to " Vincent 
Voulp painter," to "the King's voulteger," and to 
" Nicholas Craser an estronymer." It is noticeable 
also that the same sum exceeds by nearly one half 
the amount annually paid for the services of " Pirro 
the French cook." 

The publication of the Cheque Book of the Chapel 
Royal, so ably edited by Dr. Rimbault, has enabled 
us to elucidate a previously unexplained point in the 
career of Heywood. That the plebeian singing-boy of 
the royal chapel should be found a student at Oxford 
University, that he should have shared the friendship 
of More and the confidence of Queen Mary, and 
should finally become possessor of estates in several 
English counties, appear to be circumstances incom- 

IN TROD UC TIO N. xxxix 

patible with the known indignity of his profession. 
But the Liber Niger Domini Regis, a manuscript 
cited in Dr. Rimbault's work, admits us to a view of 
the economy of this semi-religious establishment, and 
supplies information which allows us to account for 
the singing-boy's promotion. First, directing the 
whole affairs of this priestly corporation, but taking 
no part in the liturgical services of the church, was 
placed a resident dean. Beneath him, and in order of 
seniority, came twenty-four chaplains of the chapel. 
It is singular to read of their daily allotments the 
clean's allowance of three loaves, the chaplain's mess 
of meat and portion of spice and wine, the latter 
however allowable only after an evening service. To 
a share in these benefits, the lay portion of the chapelry 
were likewise entitled, whose sum total of eleven per- 
sons consisted of a " Master of Songe," two Epistellers, 
or readers of the Epistles, and eight Children of the 
Chapel. At the time, then, that Heywood entered 
the chapel choir, a restricted yet honourable career 
was presented to a youth of musical proficiency. He 
might at least aspire to become an " Episteller," or, 
taking holy orders, would in due course arrive at the 
full dignity of King's chaplain. But as a soprano 
voice was far more highly valued in this establish- 
ment than either eloquence or scholarship, an outlet 


was found for elderly choristers by draughting them 
off, at his majesty's expense, to the Universities of 
Oxford or Cambridge. 1 Of this privilege we must 
suppose Heywood to have availed himself, as we find 
him to have been entered as a student at Broadgate, 
now Pembroke College, Oxford. 

It is somewhat remarkable that materials for a 
biography of John Heywood can but with difficulty 
be recovered from the published remains of his cen- 
tury. After quitting the University, it is probable 
that he almost immediately took up the profession of 
theatrical instructor to a company of performing chil- 
dren, at the same time holding on to his emoluments 
in the household. But of his career as a public caterer 
no record has come down to us, indeed, his long con- 
nection with the stage is evidenced only by desultory 
notices in private account books, more particularly 
those used in the royal household in regulating the 
daily expenses. In one of these, as early as the 

1 And when any of these children comene to be xviij years of 
age, and their voices change, ne cannot be preferred in this 
chappelle, the nombere being full, then yf they will assente, the 
Kyng assynethe them to a College of Oxeford or Cambridge of his 
foundation, there to be at fynding and studye both suffytyently, 
tylle the King may otherwise advaunce them. MS. Harleian, 
(293, 642). 


year 1526, mention is made of a quarterly salary of 
fifty shillings, paid by way of retainer to secure Hey- 
wood's services in the King's musical establishment. 
Again in 1537, a payment to Heywood of two pounds 
occurs among the items of Princess Mary's expendi- 
ture and mention of a like disbursement is also found 
in the privy purse accounts of Princess Elizabeth. 
Both sums are in remuneration for the performances of 
Heywood's children. Of these identical performances 
no account has been preserved, but a memorial of a 
similar celebration that has come down to us, is not 
the least curious of the curiosities connected with 
the stage. From this document we gather some 
particulars of the performance of a Latin play, acted 
at Greenwich before Henry VIII. and visitors from 
France, Marechal Montmorency, the Bishop of Rouen 
and Monsieur d'Humieres. The entrepreneur on this 
occasion was not John Heywood, but the Head 
Master of St. Paul's School, John Rightwise, better 
known to fame in connection with Lyly's Latin 
Grammar. The play, which was the work of Right- 
wise himself, and was performed by his own pupils, 
aimed at heaping ridicule on Luther and the faith of 
the reformers. When we say that the characters in 
this piece bear the names of Ecclesia, Heresy and 
False-Interpretation, the theological nature of the 


entertainment will be readily surmised. Such com- 
panies of juvenile comedians as that which Heywood 
conducted were the object of considerable animosity 
among maturer actors, and Shakespeare himself had 
afterwards to complain of their counter-attractiveness. 
Ben Jonson, on the contrary, entrusted his best plays 
to their performing, and on the death of Salathiel 
Pavey, one of the children, most admiringly writes, 

He did play old men so duly, 
That, sooth, the Parcse thought him one, 
, He played so truly. 

In the Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596, we observe 
that Sir John Harrington commiserates Heywood as 
having so narrowly escaped "the jerke of the six- 
stringed whip." The circumstance alluded to occurred 
in 1 544, when our author, relying too implicitly per- 
haps on the protection of his friends at court, was so 
daring and uncompromising as to deny the spiritual 
supremacy of the King. The terror of the situation, 
however, appears to have prevailed, for the unfortunate 
dramatist was permitted to expiate his offences by 
appearing at Paul's Cross, and there proclaiming a 
rigmarole of recantations, to which, as we are aware, 
the firm inflexibility of his opinions would never 
have permitted him conscientiously to subscribe. " I 
come hither at this time, good people!" he begins, 


" willinglye and of mine own desyrouse suit, to show 
and declare unto you briefly, first of all, the great and 
inestimable clemency and mercifulness of my most 
sovereign and redoubted prince the kings majesty, 
the which his highness hath most graciously used 
towards me a wretch, most justly and worthily con- 
demned to die for my manifold and outrageous 
offences. For whereas," he continues, " his majesty's 
supremacy hath so often been opened unto me both 
by writing and speaking (if I had had grace either to 
open my eyes to see it, or mine ears to hear it), to be 
surely and certainly grounded and established upon 
the very true way of God ; yet for lack of grace, I 
have most wilfully and obstinately suffered myself to 
fall to such blindness, that I have not only thought 
that the Bishop of Rome hath been, and ought to be, 
taken the chief and supreme head of the universal 
church of Christ in earth ; but also, like no true sub- 
ject, concealed and favoured such as I have known or 
thought to be of the same opinion. For the which 
most detestable treasons and untruths, I here most 
humbly and with all my heart, first of all axe the 
king's majesty forgiveness, and secondarily all the 
world." ! 

1 MS. Lambeth. Banner Register *, fol. 61. Fox's Acts and 
Monuments ^ v. 538. 


Without any direct authority for the assertion, 
Heywood has been numbered among the merry 
fellows who occupied the position of professed jester 
at the Court of our English Kings. Such an one, it 
was currently said, could not be a wise man to take 
the place and could not be a fool to keep it. It is 
certain that the clowns and merry-andrews whom the 
Plantagenet and even the Tudor kings loved to have 
constantly about them, were frequently men of fair 
literary attainments and of good social standing. 
So long ago as the eleventh century, a chartered fool 
had amassed so considerable a treasure in the exercise 
of his vocation, that the possessions for long after 
held at Walworth by the see of Canterbury, came by 
his bequest to be the property of the cathedral church. 
Not only the jester of Edmund Ironside, but the can- 
tatores and joculatores of the sterner Norman princes 
carried away huge proceeds to enhance the comfort 
of their private lives. At the court of William I. the 
jester Berdic is said to have retired with a grant of 
five carucates of land and the lordship of five towns as 
his pension ; and the magnificent hospital now ex- 
isting in Smithfield is reported to have been primarily 
erected with the gains of the licensed jester of Henry I. 
Arguing from these precedents, it has been presumed 
that the presents and pensions repeatedly granted to 


John Heywood corroborate the supposition that he 
also is among the King's jesters. The property Hey- 
wood accumulated was considerable. First of all we 
discover that in 1521, an annuity of ten marks was 
granted to " John Heywood, the King's servant " 
chargeable on the rentals of two manors in North- 
amptonshire formerly enjoyed by a certain Thomas 
Farthing. 1 Again in 1558, five days before Queen 
Mary's death, there was granted to him under the 
description of " John Heywood gentleman " the manor 
of Bulmer in Yorkshire, lately the property of Sir 
John Bulmer who had become attainted for his com- 
plicity in the Pilgrimage of Grace. 2 When, in 1577, a 
commission was appointed to enquire into the lands 
and goods of our author and his wife, they found him 
to have been possessed for life of certain lands at a 
nominal rental, of which Heywood also held a rever- 
sion. Also that Eliza Heywood had land of 5 
yearly value which had passed by grant to their 
daughter Elizabeth. They also found that he held a 
lease from the Queen of lands in Kent worth 100, 
which was forfeited by reason of his political 
offences. Another authority states that he was pos- 

1 State Papers. Henry VIII. iii. 1 186. 
1 State Papers. Domestic. XIV. 8. 


sessed of customary lands in Hertfordshire, at North 

We have noticed Queen Mary's death-bed gift to 
John Heywood, and it is easy to perceive that this 
was not the only kind office that the zealous Queen 
performed for him. Probably Hey wood's rescue from 
execution was due to the royal lady's intervention, 
as it is certain that between the Princess and the 
singing-man there had existed a long and honourable 
intimacy. He is the English Rizzio without the 
tragedy, also, it may be mentioned, without the 

" What wind blew you to court ?" asked the Queen, 
as one day Heywood made his appearance. 

" Two," replied the favourite, " especially the one to 
see your Majesty." 

"We thank you for that," said Queen Mary, "but 
what is the other?" 

"That your Grace," he replied, "may see me." 

Another time, as it is recorded in Ben Jonson's 
Conversations with Drummond, he came so rudely 
into the presence that the Queen herself had to inter- 
fere. "She had made him so brave," she said, "that 
he had almost misknowen himself." When she was 
at the age of eighteen he had composed a poem in 
her praise, and though the verses have been adduced 


as an instance of "his poetic policy," it should be 
remembered that the piece of flattery was bestowed 
at a time when the object of it was friendless and in 
disgrace. At her coronation, Heywood took a leading 
part in the pageant and festivities, and composed 
another copy of laudatory verses. Even in her last 
moments, Heywood was permitted to be present, 
and then, as we have seen, his service and his 
friendship were not suffered to pass unrecognised 
or unrewarded. 

We have already spoken of Heywood as a dra- 
matist, it now remains for us to notice him as a poet. 
His verse has not attained to equal notoriety with his 
dramas ; for among a coterie of bad poets, Heywood 
is easily distinguished as the worst. He has written 
little that soars higher than the merest doggerel. Of 
his epigrams, six hundred in number, not one has 
found a place in the English anthology. Of his best 
we will only say that they are as puerile as the 
worst of Martial's, and nearly as indelicate. His 
single epic, upon which its author must have staked 
his poetic reputation, may at one time have found 
place among the other controversial writings of 
that century ; though probably no one unless Dr. 
Doran be an exception has since had the boldness 
to peruse it. But the historian of Court Fools, after 


toiling to the end of the last stanza, is convinced 
that the " Spider and the Fly " of John Heywood 
is not nearly so entertaining as is the same poem by 
the free-and-easy poet, Tom Hudson. Not having 
studied our author's weightiest production, we can 
offer no opinion on it; but the Proverbs which we 
have read could scarcely be out-done in the way of 
dense and stupid poetasting. But still in the face of 
this conviction we will yet maintain, and in this view 
we shall not be wanting for supporters, that the store 
of sayings and adages which the old Court Jester has 
collected, are worthy of preservation as an antiquity 
of literature and a land-mark in the history of the 
English mind. 

It now only remains for us to add that the edition 
we have used in our present version of the Proverbs, 
is that published in 1598, being the last that issued 
from the press. We have selected the later impres- 
sion as being more free from corruptions ; though the 
first edition, that of 1546, is the more valuable as 
it is but very rarely met with. The unwieldiness 
of Heywood's own title must be our excuse for sup- 
pressing it in this version, and the original having 
changed its appearance so completely in our hands, 
will perhaps justify the slight fraud upon our author. 


We proceed to give his title exactly as we find it; 
remarking that the latter portion of the title-page 
alludes to another and distinct work : 



With respect to the preface the editor begs to state 
that he has refrained from the usual course of sup- 
plying every chance mention of an author's name 
which may with great pains be discovered in obscure 
contemporary literature. He has preferred to give 
only such facts and surmises as may be new to the 
biographer, or such remarks and reflections as these 
may give rise to. He has already traced the revival 
of old saws which followed the publication of Hey- 
wood's book. But previous to penning these last 



lines, he has lighted upon a speech in a coeval 
comedy which bears him out in the justness of his 
deductions. The play is the one which is well known 
as the master-piece of Decker, and the proverb- 
revival is plainly aimed at when one of the buffo- 
characters begins to quote learnedly from a cheese- 
trencher. Quaint applications for sentences and 
maxims have since become more common; but in 
this incident in Decker's comedy we are strikingly 
reminded of that unfortunate poem by Sir Bland 
Burges, which Lord Byron declares having read 
on the lining of a trunk at Malta. "And if you 
don't believe me," adds the poet, " I will buy a port- 
manteau to quote from." 


Kensington, March, 1874. 




MONG other things profiting in our 

Those which much may profit both 

old and yong: 
Such as on their fruit will feede or take holde, 
Are our common plaine pithie Proverbs olde. 
Some sense of some of which being bare and rude, 
Yet to fine and fruitfull effect they allude, 
And their sentences include so large a reach, 
That almost in all things good lessons they teach. 
This write I not to teach, but to touch ; for why ? 
Men know this as well or better then I. 



But this and this rest ; I write for this, 
Remembring and considering what the pith is, 
That, by remembrance of these, Proverbs may grow. 
In this tale, erst talked with a friend, I show 
As many of them as we could fitly finde 
Falling to purpose, that might fall in minde ; 
To th' entent that the Reader readily may 
Finde them and minde them, when he will alway. 



F mine acquaintance a certaine young 


(Being a resorter to me now and than) 
Resorted lately, shewing himselfe to be 
Desirous to talke at length alone with me 
And as we for this a meete place had won, 
With this olde proverbe, this young man begon : 
Whoso that knew what would be deare, 
Should neede be a marchant but one year e. 
Though it, (quoth he), thing impossible bee, 
The full sequele of present things to foresee, 
Yet doth this proverbe provoke every man, 
Politikely, (as man possibly can), 
In things to come after, to cast eye before, 
To cast out, or keepe in, things for fore store, 


As the provision may seeme most profitable, 

And the commoditie most commendable. 

Into this consideration I am wrought 

By two things, which fortune to hands hath brought. 

Two women I know, of which twaine the tone 

Is a mayde of flowring age, a goodly one ; 

Th' other a widow, who so many yeares beares, 

That all her whitenes lyeth in her white heares. 

This mayde hath friends rich, but riches she hath none, 

Nor none can her hands get to live upon. 

This widow is very rich and her friends bare, 

And both these for love to wed with me fond are. 

And both would I wed, the better and the wurse, 

The tone for her person, the tother for her purse : 

They wooe not my substance, but my selfe they wooe, 

Goods have I none and small good can I dooe. 

On this poore maide, her rich friends, I cleerly know, 

(So she wedde where they will), great gifts wil bestow, 

But with them all I am so far from faver, 

That she shall sure have no grote, if I have her ; 

And I shall have as little all my friends sweare, 

Except I follow them to wedde elswhere. 

The poore friends of this rich widow beare no sway, 

But wed her and win wealth, when I will I may. 

Now which of these twaine is like to be deerest, 

In paine or pleasure to sticke to me neerest ? 


The depth of all doubts with you to consither, 
The sense of the sayd proverbe sendeth me hither, 
The best bargaine of both quickly to have skand, 
For one of them think I to make out of hand. 


IRIEND, (quoth I), welcome, and with right 

good will, 

I will as I can your minde herein fulfill. 
And two things I see in you, that shew you wise, 
First in wedding, ere ye wed to aske advise. 
The second, your yeares being yong it appeares, 
Ye regard yet good proverbs of old feme yeares : 
And as ye ground your tale upon one of them, 
Furnish me this tale with everychone of them, 
Such as may fitly fall in minde to dispose. 
Agreed, (quoth he) ; then, (quoth I), first this disclose, 
Have you to this old widow, or this yong mayd, 
Any words of assurance ere this tyme sayd ? 
Nay in good faith, said he. Well then, (said I), 
I will be plaine with you, and may honestly ; 
And plainly too speake, I like you, (as I sayd), 


In two fore told things, but a third haue I wayd, 

Not so much to be liked, as I can deeme, 

Which is, in your wedding, your haste too extreeme. 

The best and worst thing to man for this life, 

Is good or ill choosing his good or ill wife. 

I meane not onely of bodie good or bad, 

But of all things meet or unmeete to be had, 

Such as at any time by any meanes may, 

Betweene man and wife, love encrease or decay. 

Where this ground in any head gravely grateth, 

All fine haste to wed, it soone rebateth. 

Some things that provoke yong men to w r ed in haste, 

Show after wedding, that haste maketh waste. 

When time hath turnd white sugar to white salt, 

Then such folke see, soft fire matfth sweet malt, 1 

1 Soft fire matfth sweet malt. 

Nicholas. O maister Philip, forbeare ; you must not leape 
over the stile before you come at it ; haste makes waste ; soft 
fire makes sweet malt ; not too far for falling ; there's no hast 
to hang true men. 

Philip. Father, we ha'te, ye see, we ha'te. Now will I see if 
my memorie will serve for some proverbs, too. O, a painted 
cloath were as well worth a shilling as a theefe worth a halter. 
Two Angry Women of Abington, 1599. 

Hold, hold, quoth Hudibras, soft fire, 

They say, does make sweet malt, good Squire, 

Festina lente, not too fast ; 

For haste (the proverb says) makes waste. 



And that deliberation doth men assist, 
Before they wed to beware of had I wist? 
And then their timely wedding doth cleerely appeere 
That they were early up, and never the neere. 
And once their hastie heate a little controlde, 
Then perceive they well, hot love soone colde? 
And when hastie witles mirth is mated weele, 
Good to be merie and wise? they thinke and feele. 

2 Beware of had I wist. 

A common exclamation of regret occurring in Spenser, 
Harrington and the older writers. " Beware of had-I-wist" is 
the title of a poem in the Paradise of Dainty Devices , 1578 ; and 
in Witts Recreation, 1654, the expression is rhymed upon in an 
epitaph on one Walter Moon : 

Here lies Wat Moon, that great tobacconist, 
Who dye'd too soon for lack of had-I-wist. 

An earlier instance of the application of this phrase is found 
in the Towneley Mysteries, circa 1420 : 

Be welle war of wedyng, and thynk in youre thought 
" Had I wist " is a thyng it servys of nought. 

The term could not have been uncommon so late as 1827, in 
which year a Mr. Jeffries Taylor (Old English Sayings Ex- 
'boundea) wrote a moral essay with the proverb as its title. 

3 Hot love soone colde. 

Dowghter, in this I can thinke none oother 
But that it is true thys proverbe old, 
Hastye love is soone hot and soone cold ! 

Play of Wyt and Science^ circa 1 540. 

* Good to be merie and wise. 

Touchstone. Did I gaine my wealth by ordinaries ? no ; by 


Haste in wedding some man thinketh his own availe, 
When haste proveth a rod made for his own taile. 
And when he is well beaten with his owne rod? 
Then seeth he haste and wisedome things far od ; 
And that in all, or most things, wisht at neede, 
Most times he seeth, the more haste the lesse speede. 
In lesse things than wedding, haste shew'th hastie mas 


So that the hastie man never wanteth woe? 
These sage said sawes if ye take so profound, 
As ye take that by which ye tooke your ground, 
Then finde ye grounded cause by these now here told 
In haste to wedding your haste to withold. 

changing of gold ? no. I hired me a little shop, fought low, 
tooke small gaine, kept no debt booke, garnished my shop, 
for want of plate, with good wholesome, thriftie sentences ; 
as, " Touchstone, keepe thy shoppe, and thy shoppe will 
keepe thee." " Light gaines make heavie purses." " Tis good 
to be merry and wise." Eastward Hoe^ 1605, by CHAPMAN, 

5 Beaten with his owne rod. 

don fust 

Con kint sovent est-on batu. 

Roman du Renart, circa 1300. 

6 The hastie man never wanteth woe. 

Mistress Touchstone. Thou wert afire to be a ladie, and now 
your ladiship and you may both blowe at the cole, for aught I 
know. " Selfe doe, selfe have." " The hastie man never 
wanteth woe " they say. Eastward Hoe, act v. sc. i. 



And though they seeme wives for you never so fit, 
Yet let not harmfull haste so far out run your wit : 
But that ye harke to heare all the whole summe 
That may please or displease you in time to cumme. 
Thus by these lessons ye may learne good cheape 
In wedding and all things to looke ere ye leaped 
Ye have even now well over lookte me, (quoth he), 
And leapt very nie me too. For I agree 
That these sage sayings doe weightily way 
Against hast in all thing, but I am at bay. 
By other parables of like weighty weight, 
Which hast me to wedding, as yee shall heare streight. 

7 Looke ere ye leape. 

In Tottet s Miscellany, 1557 ; and in Five Hundred Points of 
Good Husbandry, 1573, by THOMAS TUSSER. 



I E that will not when he may. 

When he would he shall have nay? 
Beautie or riches the tone of the twaine 
Now may I choose, and which me list obtaine. 
And if we determine me this mayde to take, 
And then tract of time traine her me to forsake, 
Then my beautifull manage lieth in the dike ; 
And never for beautie shall wed the like. 
Now if we award me this widow to wed, 
And that I drive off time, till time she be ded, 
Then farewell riches, the fat is in the fire? 
And never shall I to like riches aspire. 
And a thousand fold would it grieve me more 
That she in my faulte should die an houre before 

8 He that will not, &>c. 

In BURTON'S Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621: 
He that will not when he may, 
When he will he shall have nay. 

9 The fat is in the fire. 

Phy. Faith, Doricus, thy braine boils ; keele it, keele it, or all 
the fatt's in the fire. MARSTON'S What You Will, 1607. 


Than one minute after ; than haste must provoke 
When the pigge is proffer d to hold up the poke ; 
When the Sunne shineth make hay ; which is to say, 
Take time when time comth, lest time steale away. 
And one good lesson to this purpose I pike 
From the smith's forge, when th iron is hot, strike. 
The sure Seaman seeth, the tide tarieth no man^ 
And long delayes or absence somewhat to skan, 

10 When ttt iron is hot, strike. 

Birdlime. Strike whilst the iron is hot. A woman, when there 
be roses in her cheeks, cherries on her lips, civet in her breath, 
ivory in her teeth, lilies in her hand, and liquorice in her heart, 
why, she's like a play : if new, very good company ; but if stale, 
like old Jeronimo, go by, go by, therefore, as I said before, strike. 
Besides, you must think that the commodity of beauty was not 
made to lie dead upon any young woman's hands : if your husband 
have given up his cloak, let another take measure of you in his 
jerkin ; for as the cobbler in the night-time walks with his lantern, 
the merchant and the lawyer with his link, and the courtier with 
his torch, so every lip has its lettuce to himself: the lob has his 
lass, the collier his dowdy, the western-man his punk, the student 
his nun in Whitefriars, the puritan his sister, and the lord his 
lady ; which worshipful vocation may fall upon you, if you'll but 
strike whilst the iron is hot. WEBSTER'S Westward Hoe, 1607. 

Messieurs, ce pendant que le fer est chauld il le fault battre. 

RABELAIS, ii. 31. 

11 The tide tarieth no man. 

In a poem by Robert Southwell, a work in every respect much 
above the average of the didactic poetry of that day, the prover- 
bial saying is introduced into a carefully wrought stanza : 

Hoist up saile while gale doth last, 
Tide and wind stay no man's pleasure ; 


Since that one will not another will, 

Delayes in wooers must needes their speede spill. 

And touching absence, the full account who somthe 

Shall see, as fast as one goeth another comthe. 

Time is tickle ; and out of sight, out of minde ; 12 

Than catch and hold while I may, fast bindefastfinde.^ 

Seeke not time, when time is past, 

Sober speed is wisedome's leisure ; 
After wits are dearely bought, 
Let thy fore wit guide thy thought. 
The poem continues : 

Time weares all his lockes before, 

Take thou hold upon his forehead ; 
When he flies, he turnes no more, 

And behinde his scalpe is naked. 
Workes adjourn'd have many stayes 
Long demurres breed hew delayes. 

Seeke thy salve whilst sore is greene, 
Festered wounds aske deeper launcing ; 

After-cures are seldome scene, 

Often sought, scarce ever chancing. 

Time and place gives best advice. 

Out of season out of price. 

St. Peter's Complaint, 1595. 

12 Out of sight, out of minde. 

The saying has been traced to the De Imitatione Christi, by 
Thomas a Kempis, written circa 1450 : " Cum autem sublatus 
fuerit ab oculis, cito etiam transit a mente." It occurs, however, 
prior to this in an early English fragment : 
" Fer from e3e, fer from herte " 
Quoth Hendyng. 

Proverbs of Hendyng, ms. circa 1320. 

13 Fast binde fast finde. 
Shylock. Well, Jessica, go in ; 


Blame mee not to hast for feare myne eye bee blerde. 
And thereby the fat cleane flitte fro my berde. 
Where wooers hop in and out, long time may bring 
Him that hoppeth best, at last to have the ring. 
I hopping without for a ring of a rush, 
And while I at length debate and beate the bush, 
There shall steppe in other men and catch the burdes. 1 * 
And by long time lost in many vaine wurdes, 
Betweene these two wives make sloth speed confound, 
While betweene two stooles my taile goe to the ground^ 

Perhaps, I will return immediately ; 
Do, as I bid you, 

Shut doors after you ; Fast bind, fast find ; 
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind. 

Merchant of Venice, ii. 5. 
Wherefore a plaine bargain is best, and in bargaines making ; 
fast bind, fast find. Jests of Scogin, 1565. 

14 While I beate the bush, &c. 

I beat the bush, and others catch the bird, 
Reason exclaimes and sweares my hap is hard. 
Philochasander and Elanira, 1599, by HENRY PETTO WE. 
It is this proverb which Henry the Fifth is reported to have 
uttered at the siege of Orleans, when the citizens, besieged by the 
English, declared themselves willing to yield the town to the Duke 
of Burgundy, who was in the English camp. " Shall I beat the 
bush, and another take the bird ?" said King Henry. The Duke 
was so offended that he withdrew his troops and concluded a 

15 Betweene two stooles, &c. 

A proverb found in a French manuscript of the I4th century : 
A grant folie entent 
Qui deus choses enprent 


By this, since we see slouth must breed a scab. 

Best sticke to the tone out of hand, hab or nab. 

Thus all your proverbs inveying against hast, 

Be answered with proverbs plaine and promptly plast, 

Whereby to purpose all this no further fits, 

But to shew, so many heads so many wits^ 

Which shew, as surely in all that they all tell, 

That in my wedding I may even as well 

Tary too long and thereby come to late, 

As come too soone by hast in any rate ; 

And prove this proverbe as the wordes thereof goe, 

Hast or sloth herein woorke neither welth nor woe. 

E nule ne acheive ; 
Savey hi 1'en dessert : 
L/une par autre pert 
E sei meismes greves. 
Entre deux arcouns chet cul a terre. 
Les Proverbes del Vilain, MS. Bodleian, circa 1300. . 
Is afterwards used by RABELAIS, Gargantua, liv. i. c. ii. 

" S'asseoir entre deux selles le cul a terre." 
16 So many heads so many wits. 

For amonge feaders are alwayes sondry appetytes, and in great 
assemblyes of people, dyvurse, and varyaunt judgements ; as the 
saynge is,, so many heades, so many wyttes. Godly Meditacyon 
of the Christen Sowle, by QUEEN ELIZABETH, 1548. 

Phylautus. Ah, sirha, I see wel the olde proverbe is true, 
which saith : so many men so many mindes. GASCOIGNE'S 
Glasse of Government, 1575. 

Quot homines tot sententiae. 



Be it far or nie, wedding is destiny y 

And hanging likewise 17 , sayth the proverbe, sayd I. 

Then wedde or hang, (quoth he), what helpeth in the 


To hast or to hang aloofe, happy man happy dole. 
Ye deale this dole, (quoth I), out at a wrong dur, 
For destiny in this case doth not so stur 
Agaynst mans indeavour, but man may direct 
His will, fore provision to worke or neglect. 
But to shew that quick wedding may bring good 


Somewhat to purpose your proverbs prove indeede. 
Howbeit, whether they counterpaise or outway 
The proverbes which I before them did lay, 

17 Wedding is destiny and hanging likewise. 

An earlier mention of the saying, " Hanging and wiving go by 
destiny," is found in the Schole-hous for Women, 1541. In 1558, 
a ballad was licensed with the title " The Proverbe is true y l Wed- 
dynge is destinye." 

18 " Happy man be your dole" was an exclamation implying 
a wish for success to any one engaging in a contest or entering 
upon an undertaking. 

Mine honest friend, 

Will you take eggs for money ? 
Mam. No, my lord, I'll fight. 
Leo. You will ? why, happy man be his dole ! 

Winters Tale, i. 2. 

Happy man be his dole that misses her. 

Grim the Collier of Croydon. 


The trial thereof we will lay a water ^ 
Til we trye more. For trying of which mater, 
Declare all commodities ye can devise, 
That by those two weddings to you can rise. 



WILL, (quoth he), in both these cases 

streight show 
What things, (as I thinke), to me by them 

will grow. 

And where my love began, there begin will I 
With this maide, the peece peereles in mine eie, 
Whom I so favour, and she so favoureth me, 
That halfe a death to us tis asunder to be. 
Affection each to other doth us so move, 
That welny without food we could live by love ; 
For be I right sad or right sicke from her sight, 
Her presence absenteth all maladies quight ; 
Which sheweth that the great ground in manage, 

19 Lay a water. 

If he had broke his arme. .... either Apollo must have played 
Bonesetter, or every occupation beene laide a water. GOSSON'S 
Schoole of Abuse, 1579. 


Standeth upon liking the parties personage. 

And then of old proverbs, in opening the pack, 

One shew'th me openly, in love is no lack ; 

No lack of liking, but lack of living. 

Nay lack in love, (quoth I), may breed its chieving. 

Well as to that, (said he), harke this one thing, 

What time I lack not her, I lack nothing. 

But though we have nought, nor nought we can get, 

God never send'th mouth but he sendeth meat : 

And a hard beginning makth a good ending : 

In space comth grace and this further amending, 

Seldome comth the better and like will to like : l 

God send'th cold after clothes ; 2 and this I pike, 

She, by lack of substance, seeming but a sparke, 

Steinth yet the stoutest : for a legge of a larke 

20 Seldome comth the better. 

This change is like to the rest of worldy chaunges, that is, from 
the better to the worse : For as the Proverb sayth : Seldome 
corns the better. English Courtier and Coimtry Gentleman, 

1 Like 'will to like. 

like to like, ye ken it's a proverb never fails ; and ye are 
baith a pair o' the deevil's peats,! trow hard to ken whilk deserves 
the hottest corner o' his ingleside. Heart of Midlothian. 

2 God send'th cold after clothes. 

" Dieu donne le froid selon la robbe," is the French form of 
this proverb, found in Les Premices, 1594, by HENRY ESTIENNE. 



Is better than is the bodie of a kight ; 3 

And home is homely, though it be poore in sight. 

These proverbs for this part shew such a flourish, 

And then this partie doth delight to nourish ; 

That much is my bow bent to shoot at these markes, 

And kill feare ; when the skiefalthwe shall have Larkes* 

All perils that fall may, who feareth they fall shall, 

Shall so feare all things that he shall let fall all ; 

And be more fray d then hurt, if the things be done ; 

Feare may force a man to cast beyond the mooned 

Who hopeth in Gods helpe, his helpe cannot start, 

Nothing is impossible to a willing hart. 

And will may winne my hart herein to consent 

3 A legge of a larke, &C. 

Gyrtrude. I would not change husbands with my sister ; I 
" The legge of a larke is better than the body of a kite." 

Mistress Touchstone. Know that ; but 

Gyrtrude. What, sweet mother, what ? 

Mistress Touchstone. It's but ill food when nothing's left bu 
the claw. Eastward Hoe, by CHAPMAN, MARSTON, and BEIS 
JONSON, 1605. 

4 When the skie faith we shall have Larkes. 

Si les nues tomboyent esperoyt prendre les alouettes. RABE 
LAIS, Gargantua. 

5 "To cast beyond the moon" is a proverbial phrase, in frequen 
use by the old writers to signify attempting impossibilities. 

But oh, I talk of things impossible 
And cast beyond the moon. 

A Woman K UP d with Kindness , 1607. 


To take all things as it comth, and be content. 
And here is, (quoth he), in marying of this mayde, 
For courage and commoditie all myne ayde. 
Well sayd, (quoth I), but a while keepe me in quench, 
All this case, as touching this poore young wench. 
And now declare your whole consideration, 
What maner thinges draw your imagination, 
Toward your wedding of this widow rich and olde ? 
That shall ye, (quoth he), out of hand have told. 


HIS Widow being foule and of favour ill, 
In good behaviour can very good skill : 
Pleasantly spoken, and a very good wit ; 
And at her table when we together sit, 
I am well served ; we fare of the best. 
The meate good and holsome and holsomely drest : 
Sweet and soft lodging, and thereof great shift ; 
This felt and seene with all implementes of thrift, 
Of plate and money, such cupboordes and coffers, 
And that without penie I may win these proffers. 
Than covetyse bearing Venus bargayne backe, 
Pray sing this bargayne sayth, better leave then lacke* 


And greedines to draw desire to her lore, 

Saith, that the wise man sayth, store is no sore. 

Who hath many Pease may put the mo in the pot ; 

Of two Us chose the least? while choise lyeth in lot. 

Since lacke is an ill, as ill as man may have ; 

To provide for the worst, while the best it selfe save ; 

Resty welth wilth me 7 this widow to winne, 

To let the world wagge? and take mine ease in myne 

He must needes swim that is hold tip by the chinne ; 10 

6 Of two Us chose the least. 

Of harmes two the lesse is for to cheese. 

CHAUCER, Troilus and Cressida. 

7 Resty welth wilth me, i. e., rusty wealth compels me, &c. 
Reastie or rusty, in the sense of rancid, is generally applied by 
the old writers to provisions. 

From rusty bacon, and ill rested eeles, 

And from a madding wit that runnes on wheels. 

Witfs Recreations, 1634. 

8 Let the world wagge. 

An exclamation almost identical with this occurs in the old 
morality, The iiii. Elements, 1510 ; and again more humorously 
in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. 

Sly. Y'are a baggage ; the Slies are no rogues ; Look in the 
chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, 
paucas pallabris ; let the world slide. 

9 Mine ease in myne Inne. 

Falstaff. Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but I shall 
have my pocket picked? i Henry IV. iii. 2. 

10 He must needes swim that is hold up by the chinne. 

In S co gin's Jests, 1565. 


He laugth that wintk. 11 And this threed finer to spinne, 

Mayster promotion sayth, make this substance sure ; 

If riches bring ones portly countenance in ure, 12 

Then shalt thou rule the rost 13 all round about ; 

And better to rule than to be ruled by the rout. 

It is sayd, be it better be it wurse, 

Doe you after him that beareth the purse. 

Thus be I by this, once le senior de graunde, 

Many that command me, I shall commaunde. 

And also I shall to revenge former hurtes, 

Hold their noses to grinstone, and sit on their skurtes, 

That erst sate on myne. And riches may make 

Frendes many wayes. Thus better to give then to take. 

And to make carnall appetite content, 

11 He laugth that wintk. 

The reverse side of this proverb is the more common. 
Give losers leave to talk. 

TAYLOR'S Arrant Thiefe, 1622. 

I, I, wele give loosers leave to talke : it is no matter what sic 
probo and his pennilesse companions prate, whilst we have the 
gold in our coffers. N ASH'S Pierce Penilesse, 1592. 

12 Ure, an Anglo-Norman word equivalent to the French heure, 
of which word it is a corruption. This is one of the latest instances 
of the application of the word, which was current in the time of 

13 Rule the rost. 

But at the pleasure of me 
That ruleth the roste alone. 

SKELTON'S Colyn Cloute, circa 1518. 


Reason laboreth will, to win wil's consent, 
To take lacke of beauty but as an eie sore 
The fayre and the foule by darke are like store. 
When all candles bee out all cattes be gray ; 
All things are then of one colour, as who say : 
And this proverbe sayth, for quenching hot desire, 
Foule water as sone as fayre will quench hot fire. 
Where giftes be given freely, East, West, North or 


No man oitght to looke a given horse in the mouth. 16 
And though her mouth be foule, shee hath a faire taile ; 
I conster this text, as is most my availe. 
In want of w T hite teeth and yellow hayres to behold, 
Shee flourisheth in white silver and yellow gold. 
What though she be toothles and bald as a coote ? 
Her substance is shoote ankre whereat I shoote. 

14 An eie sore. 

Quod the Barbour, but a lytell eye sore. 

Mery Jests of the Wyddow Edyth, 1525. 

15 No man ought to looke a given horse in the mouth. 

This proverb occurs in Vulgaria StamMgt 9 prmted by Wynkyn 
de Worde and Peter Trevaris, circa 1510. 

" A gyven hors may not be loked in the tethe." 

Archbishop Trench (Proverbs and their Lessons] observes of 
this saying : 

" I will not pretend to say how old it may be, but it is certainly 
as old as Jerome, a Latin father of the fourth century ; who when 
some found fault with certain writings of his, replies with a tart- 


Take a payne for a pleasure all wise men can ; 
What, hungry dogges will eate durty puddinges, man ? lf) 
And here I conclude, (quoth he,) all that I know, 
By this old widow, what good to me may grow. 


|E have, (quoth I), in these conclusions found 
Sundry things that very saverly sound ; 
And both these long cases, being well 

In one short question we may well inclewde ; 

Which is, whether best or woorst be to be ledde ^ 

With riches, without love or beauty, to wedde ; 

Or with beauty without riches for love. 

This question, (quoth he), inquir'th all that I move. 

It doth so, (said I), and is neerly couched, 

But th' answere will not so briefly be touched ; 

ness which he could occasionally exhibit, that they were voluntary 
on his part, free-will offerings, and with this quoted the proverb, 
that it did not behove to look a gift horse in the moicth. And 
before it comes to us, we meet it once more in one of the rhymed 
Latin verses, which were such great favourites in the middle ages. 
Si quis dat mannos, ne quaere in dentibus annos. 

16 Hungry dogges , &>c. 

There is another proverb which declares that a hungry man 
will eat anything, except Suffolk cheese. 


<And your selfe, to length it, taketh (direct trade, 17 
For all reasons that I have yet made, 
Yee seeme more to seeke reasons how to contend, 
Than to the counsell of mine to condiscend. 
And to be playne, as I must with my frend, 
I perfectly feele even at my fingers end ; 
So hard is your hand set on your halfpeny 
That my reasoning your reason setteth naught by. 
But reason for reason, yee so stifly lay, 
By proverbe for proverbe, that with you doe way, 
That reason onely shall herein nought move you 
To heare more then speake, wherefore I will prove you 
With reason assisted by experience, 
Which myself saw, not long since nor farre hence, 
In a matter so like this fashiond in frame, 
That none can be liker, it seemeth even the same. 
And in the same, as your selfe shall espy, 
Each sentence soothed with a proverbe welny. 
And at ende of the same, yee shall cleerly see, 

17 Trade, i.e. a way, a means. 

Long did I serve this lady, 
Long was my travel, long my trade to win her. 

MASSINGER, Very Woman. 

18 So hard is your hand set on your halfpeny. 

Ri. Dromio, looke heere, now is my hand on my half-peny. 
Half. Thou liest, thou hast not a farthing to lay thy hands on. 
Mother Bombie, by JOHN LYLY, 1594, 


How this short question shortly answered may bee. 

Ye may, (quoth he), now yee shoote nie the pricke j 1 

Practise in all, above all toucheth the quicke. 

Proofe upon practise, must take hold more sure 

Then any reasoning by gesse can procure. 

If ye bring practise in place, without fabling, 

I will banish both hast and busie babling. 

And yet that promise to performe is mickell, 

For in this case my tong must oft tickell. 

Ye know well it is, as telth us this old tale, 

Meete that a man be at his owne brydale. 20 

If he wive well, (quoth I), meete and good it were ; 

Or els as good for him another were there. 

But for this your bridale, I meane not in it, 

That silence shall suspend your speech every whit. 

But in these manages which ye here meve, 

Since this tale containeth the counsell I can geve, 

I would see your eares attend with your tong ; 

For advyse in both these weddinges old and yong. 

19 Pricke^ i.e. the centre of a target. The word was used to 
signify any particular spot ; in the old copies of Euclid it is 
printed where we now read " point." 

20 Brydale, a wedding festivity. 

There were bride-ales, church-ales, clerk- ales, give-ales, lamb- 
ales, leet-ales, Midsummer-ales, Scot-ales, Whitsun-ales, and 
several more. BRAND'S Popular Antiquities. 


In which hearing, tyme scene when and what to talk 
When your tong tickleth, at will let it walke. 
And in these brydales, to the reasons of ours, 
Marke mine experience in this case of yours. 


^ITHIN few yeares past, from London no 

far way, 
Where I and my wife with our poore hous- 

hold lay : 

Two yong men were abyding, whom to discrive, 
Were I in portraying persons dead or alive, 
As cunning and as quicke, to touch then at full, 
As in that feat I am ignorant and dull ; 
Never could I paynt their pictures to allow, 
More lively than to paynt the picture of you. 
And as your three persons shew one similitude, 
So shew you three one in all things to be viewd. 
Lykewise a widow and a mayde there did dwell ; 
Alyke, lyke the widow and mayde ye of tell. 
The frendes of them foure in every degree, 
Standing in state as the frendes of you three. 
Those two men each other so hasted or taried, 
That those two women on one day they maryed. 


Into two houses, which next my house did stand, 
The one on the right, the other on the left hand, 
Both Bridegromes bad mee ; I could doe none other, 
But dyne with the tone, and suppe with the tother. 
He that wedded this Widow rich and olde, 
And also she favoured me so, that they would 
Make me dyne or suppe once or twyce in a weeke. 
This poore young man and his make, 1 being to seeke 
As oft where they might eate or drinke, I them bad, 
Were I at home, to such pittaunce as I had. 
Which common conference such confidence wrought 
In them to me that deed, woord, ne welny thought 
Chaunced among them, what ever it were, 
But one of the foure brought it to mine eare. 
Whereby betweene these twaine and their two wives, 
Both for wealth and woe, I knew all their four lives. 
And since the matter is much intricate, 
Betweene side and side, I shall here separate 
All matters on both sides, and then sequestrate 
Th' one side, while th' other be full reherst in rate, 

1 His make, i. e. his wife. * 

All your parishoners, 
As well your laicks, as your quiristers, 
Had need to keep to their warm feather-beds, 
If they be sped of loves ; this is no season 
To seek new makes in. 

BEN JONSON, Tale of a Tub^ i. i. 


As for your understanding may best stand ; 
And this young poore couple shall come first in hand. 
Who, the day of wedding and after a while, 
Could not looke each on other but they must smile, 
As a whelpe for wantonnes in and out whippes, 
So plaide these twaine, as mery as three chippes. 
Yea, there was God, (quoth he), when all is doone. 
Abyde, (quoth I), it was yet but hony moone ; 
The blacke oxe had not trade on his nor her foote ; * 
But ere this braunch of blisse could reach any roote, 
The flowers so faded that in fifteene weekes, 
A man might espye the change in their cheekes. 
Both of this poore wretch and his wife this poore 


Their faces tolde toies that Totnam was turnd French? 
And all their light laughing turnd and translated 

2 The blacke oxe, &c. 

This proverb, meaning to fall into decrepitude or experience 
misfortune, occurs again in Lyly's Sapho and Phao, 1584: 

Venus waxeth old : and then she was a pretie wench, when Juno 
was a young wife ; now crowes foote is on her eye, and the black 
oxe hath trod on her foot. 

3 Totnam was turnd French. 

A phrase implying a great alteration. It takes its origin from 
the migration of a number of French workmen to this locality 
early in the reign of Henry VIII. Their competition provoked 
the jealousy of English mechanics, and resulted in disturbances 
in the streets of London on May-day, 1517. 


Into sad sighing ; all mirth was amated. 4 
And one morning timely he tooke in hand 
To make to my house a sleeveless errand? 
Hauking upon me, his minde herein to breake, 
Which I would not see till he began to speake, 
Praying me to heare him ; and I sayd, I would. 
Wherewith this that followeth forthwith he tould. 

4 Amated) dismayed. 

That I amazed and amated am, 

To see Great Brittaine turn'd to Amsterdam. 

TAYLOR'S Mad Fashions, 1642. 

5 A sleeveless errand. 

The origin of the word sleeveless, in the sense of unprofitable, 
has defied the most careful philological research. I would sug- 
gest that the phrase originated in the mediaeval custom of favoured 
knights wearing the sleeve of their mistress as a mark of 
favour ; such aspirants as failed to obtain the badge being dubbed 
as sleeveless. Spenser writes " Sir Launcelot wore the sleive of 
the faire maide of Asteloth in a tourney, whereat queene Guenever 
was much displeased." The word sleeveless is frequently found 
allied to other substantives. Bishop Hall speaks of the "sleeveless 
tale of transubstantiation," and Milton writes of a " sleeveless 
reason." Chaucer uses it in the "Testament of Love," and three 
centuries afterwards its place in popular estimation appears from 
a passage in Addison's " Spectator:" " My landlady quarrelled 
with him for sending every one of her children on a sleeveless 
errand, as she calls it." 




AM now driven, (quoth he), for ease of my 

To you, to utter part of mine inward smart. 
And the matter concerneth my wife and mee, 
Whose fathers and mothers long since dead bee, 
But uncles, with auntes and cosins have wee, 
Divers rich on both sides, so that we did see 
If we had wedded, each, where each kindred would, 
Neither of us had lackt either silver or gold. 
But never could suite on either side obtaine 
One peny to the one wedding of us twaine. 
And since our one marying, or marring, day, 
Where any of them see us they shrinke away, 
Solemnly swearing such as may give ought, 
Whyle they and we live, of them we get right nought. 
Nor nought have we, nor no way ought can we get, 
Saving by borrowing til we be in det, 
So far that no man any more will us lend, 
Whereby for lacke we both be at our wittes end. 
Whereof no wonder since the end of our good, 


And beginning of our charge together stood. 

But wit is never good till it be bought? 

Howbeit when bought wits to best price be brought, 

Yet is one good fore-wit woorth two after wits. 

This payeth me home loe and ful moe folly hits, 

For had I lookt afore with indifferent eye, 

Though hast had made me thrust never so dry, 

Yet to drowne this drought this must I needes thinke, 

As I would needes brewe so must I needes drinke: 1 

The drinke of my bride cup I should have forborne, 

Till temperance had tempred the tast beforne. 

I see now and shall see while I am alive, 

Who wedtli ere he be wise shall die ere he thrive. 

I sing now in this factfactits est repente, 

Now myne eyes be open I doe repent me, 

He that will sell lawne before he can fold it. 

He shall repent him before he have sold it. 

6 Wit is never good, &>c. 

Stationers could not live, if men did not beleeve the old 
saying, that Wit bought is better then Wit taught. Conceits, 
Clinches, Flashes and Whimsies, 1639. 

7 As I would needes brewe, so must I needes drinke. 

One of a whole family of proverbs pointing out the connec- 
tion between the cause and the result. 

If you have browen wel, you shal drinke the better. 

WODROEPHE'S Spared Hour es of a Souldier, 1623. 


Some bargains deare bought, good cheape* would be 

sold ; 

No man loveth his fetters, be they made of gold? 
Were I loose from the lovely linkes of my chaine, 
I would not daunce in such faire fetters againe, 
In house to kepe houshold, when fo Ikes will needes wed, 
Moe thinges belong then four e bare legges in a bed. 10 
I reckened my wedding a suger sweete spice, 
But reckeners without their host must recken twice. 11 
And although it were sweet for a weeke or twaine, 
Sweete meate will have sowre sawce, I see now plaine. 
Continuall penury, which I must take, 

8 Good cheape. 

Cheap iz market ; good cheap r= bon marchd. 
He buys other men's cunning good cheap in London, and sels 
it deare in the country. DECKER'S Belman's Night-walks. 

9 No man loves his fetters, &c. 

Who would weare fetters though they were all of gold ? 
Or to be sicke, though his faint browes, 
For wearing Night-cap, wore a Crown. 

Famous History of Sir Thomas Wyatt, 
1607, by WEBSTER. 

10 Foure bare legges in a bed. 

Furthermore it shall be lawful for him that marries without 
money to find four bare legs in a bed : and he that is too pro- 
digal in spending, shall die a beggar by the statute. Pennilesse 
Parliament of Threadbare Poets, 1608. 

11 Reckeners without their host must recken twice. 

11 Comptoit sans son hoste." 

RABELAIS, Gargantua. 


Telth me, better eie out then alway ake. 

Boldly and blindly I ventred on this, 

How be it, who so bold as blinde Bayard is f 1 - 

And herein to blame any man, then should I rave, 

For I did it my selfe : and selfe doe, selfe have. 

But a day after thefaire, commeth this remorse 

For releife ; for though it be a good horse 

That never stumbleth^ what praise can that avouch 

To jades that breake their neckes at first trip or touch ? 

And before this my first foile or breakneck fall, 

Subtilly like a sheepe, though[t] I, I shall 

Cut my cote after my cloth 15 when I have her. 

12 Who so bold as blinde Bayard is ? 

This proverb is applied where persons act without consider- 
ation or reflection. Its antiquity is apparent from its occurring in 
The Vision of Piers the Ploughman , 1362, and in CHAUCER'S 
Canterbury Tales. The word " bayard" originally meant a grey 
horse, a meaning which was afterwards extended to denote a 
horse in general; and Skelton mentions a description of horse-loaf 
called bayard's bun. It will be remembered that Rinaldo's horse 
in Ariosto's great work is called Baiardo. 

13 Selfe doe, selfe have. 

Yea, said shee, selfe do, selfe have : many a man thinketh to 
doe another man a shrewd turne and it turneth oftimes to his 
owne selfe. Mery Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham, circa 1450. 

14 A good horse that never stumbleth, 

A good horse that trippeth not once in a journey. Three 
Proper and Wittie Familiar Letters, 1580. 

15 Cut my cote after my cloth. 

A relic of the Sumptuary Laws, one of the earliest allusions to 



But now I can smell, nothing hath no saver. 

I am taught to know, in more hast then good speede, 

How Judicare came into the Creede. 

My carefull wife in one corner weepeth in care, 

And I in an other ; the purse is threed-bare. 

This corner of our care, (quoth he), I you tell, 

To crave therein your comfortable counsell. 


AM sory (quoth I), of your poverty ; 

And more sory, that I cannot succour yee. 

If yee sturre your neede myne almes to 

Then of troth yee beg at a wrong mans dur. 
I come to begge nothing of you, (quoth hee), 
Save your advice, which may my best way bee ; 

which occurs 1 530, in the interlude of Godly Queene Hestor, where 
Pride complains that no one can wear gay apparel since Raman 
has bought up all the cloth. 

You, with your fraternitie, in these latter dayes, cannot be con- 
tent to shape your Coate according to your Cloth. A Health tc 
the Gentlemanly Profession of Servingmen, 1598. 


How to win present salve for this present sore. 
I am like th' ill surgeon, (sayd I), without store 
Of good playsters. Howbeit such as they are, 
Yee shall have the best I have. But first declare 
Where yours and your wives rich kinsfolkes do dwell. 
Envyronned about us, (quoth hee), which sheweth 


The neer to the church, the further from God.^ 
Most part of them dwell within a thousand rod ; 
And yet shall wee catch a hare with a taberf 1 
As soone as catch ought of them, and rather. 
Ye play coleprophet, (quoth I), who tak'th in hand, 
To know his answere before he do his errand. 
What should I to them, (quoth hee), fling or flitte ? 
A n unbidden guest knoweth not where to sit. 
[ am cast at cartes arse ; some folke in lacke 

16 The neer to the church, &c. 

Qui est pres da Feglise est souvent loin de Dieu. Les Pro- 
verbes Communs, circa 1 500. 

17 Catch a hare with a taber. 

One day after the set of this comet men shall catch hares with 
tabers. . . . Such as are inclined to the dropsy may be cured if 
the phisitions know how : and if there be no great store of 

empests, two halfe penny loves shall be solde for a penny in 
White- Chappell. Chaucer's bookes shall this yeere prove more 
witty thin ever they were. Fearefull and Lamentable Effects of 
Two dangerous Comets. By SlMON SMEL-KNAVE, Stu'dient in 

iood Felowshipxi59i. 


Cannot prease : a broken sleeve holdeth th arme 

backe ; 18 

And shame holdeth me backe, being thus forsaken. 
Tush man, (quoth I), shame is as it is taken. 
And shame take him that shame thinketh yee have 


Unminded, unmoned ; goe make your mone 
Till meate fall in your mouth ; will yee lye in bed, 
Or sit still ? nay, hee that gap eth till hee bee fed 
May fortune to fast and famish for hanger. 
Set forward, yee shall never labour yonger. 
Well, (quoth hee), if I shall needes this viage make 
With as good will as a Beare goth to the stake, 
I will strayght waie anker, and hoise up sayle, 
And thitherward hie me in hast like a snayle, 
And home againe hitherward quicke as a Bee ; 
Now for good lucke, cast an old shooe after mee. lp 

18 A broken sleeve holdeth t ft arme backe. 

It is a terme with John and Jacke, 
Broken sleeve draweth arme a backe. 

Par la ment of Byrdes, 1550. 
Johphiel. Reach forth your hand. 
Meere Foole. O sir, a broken sleeve 
Keepes the arm back, as tis the proverbe. 

The Fortunate Isles, 1624, by BEN JONSON. 

19 Cast an old shooe after mee. 

Captain, your shoes are old, pray put 'em off, 
And let one fling 'em after us. 
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER, Honest Man's Fortune. 


And first to myne uncle, brother to my father, 

By suite, I will assay to winne some faver : 

Who brought me up, and till my wedding was don, 

Loved me not as his nephew, but as his son. 

And his heire had I bin, had not this chaunced, 

Of lands and goods which should me much avaunced. 

Trudge, (quoth I), to him, and on your maribones 

Crouch to the ground, and not so oft as ones 

Speake any one woord him to contrary. 

I can not tell that, (quoth he), by saint Mary ; 

One ill woord axeth another, as folkes speake. 

Well, (quoth I), better is to bow then breake ; 20 

^c o ^ 
// hurteth not the toung to giite faire woordes ;^ 

The rough net is not the best catcher of burdes. 
Since ye can nought winne, if ye can not please, 

20 Better is to bow then breake. 

Probably the earliest example of the use of this proverb is 
that in The Morale Proverbs of Cristyne ; originally written in 
French about the year 1390 and of which a verse translation 
by Earl Rivers was printed by Caxton in 1478. The following 
is the form in which it is found in the latter version : 

Rather to bo we than breke is profitable, 
Humylite is a thing commendable. 

1 // hurteth not the toung to geuefayre woordes. 

Gertrude. Come away, I say ; hunger drops out at his nose. 
Goulding. O, madam, faire words never hurt the tongue. 
Eastward Hoe, 1605, by JONSON, CHAPMAN, and MARSTON. 


Best is to suffer : for of suffrance comtk ease" 
Cause causeth, (quoth he) ; and as cause causeth me, 
So will I doo. And with this away went he. 
Yet whether his wife should goe with him or no, 
He sent her to me to know ere he would goe. 
Whereto I sayde, I thought best he went alone ; 
And you, (quoth I), to goe streight as he is gone, 
Among your kinsfolke likewise, if they dwell nye. 
Yes, (quoth she), all round about even hereby. 
Namely, an aunt, my mother's sister, who well, 
(Since my mother died), brought me up from the shell ; 
And much would have geven me, had my wedding 


Upon her fansie, as it grewe upon myne owne. 
And in likewise myne uncle, her husband, was 
A father to me. Well, (quoth I), let pas : 
And if your husbande will his assent graunt, 
Yf Goe, he to his uncle, and you to your aunt. 
Yes, this assent he graunteth before, (quoth she) ; 
For he ere this thought this the best way to be ; 
But of these two thinges he would determine none 
Without aid. For two heads are better then one. 
With this wee departed, shee to her husband, 
And I to dinner to them on th' other hand. 

2 Of suffrance comth ease. 

He give a proverbe Sufferance giveth ease. 

MARSTON'S What you Will, 1607. 



dinner was done I came home agayne 
To attend on the returne of these twayne ; 
And ere three howres to ende were fully 

Home came she first ; welcome, (quoth I), and well 


Yea, a short horse is soone currid, (quoth shee) ; 
But the weaker hath the woorse we all may see. 
And after our last parting, my husband and I 
Departed, each to place agreed formerly. 
Myne uncle and aunt on me did loure and glome, 
Both bad me good speed, but none bad me welcome. 
Their folkes glomd on me too, by which it appeareth, 
The yong cocke croweth as he the old heareth. 
At dinner they were, and made, (for manners' sake), 
A kinswoman of ours me to table take ; 
A false flattring filth, and if that be good, 
None better to beare two faces in one hood? 

3 To beare two faces in one hood. 

Alberto. Not play two parts in one? away, away, 'tis common 
fashion. Nay, if you cannot bear two subtle fronts under one 
hood ; ideot, goe by, goe by ; off this world's stage ! O times im- 
puritie ! Antonio and Mellida, 1602. 


She speaketh as shee would creepe into your bosome. 
And when the meale mouth hath woon the bottome 
Of your stomacke, then will the pickthanke 4 it tell 
To your most enimies you to buy and sell. 
To tell tales out of schoole, that is her great lust. 
Looke what shee knowth, blab it wist and out it must? 
There is no moe such titifyls in Englandes ground, 
To hold with the hare and run with the hound. 
Fyre in the tone hand and water in the tother, 
The makebate beareth betweene brother and brother. 
She can winke on the yew and werye the lam ; 
She maketh earnest matters of every flimflam ; 
Shel'e have an ore in every man's barge ; 6 
And no man may chat ought in ought of her charge. 
Coll under candlestick' 1 shee can play on both handes ; 

4 Pickthanke is an opprobrious term to denote a person who 
tries to place people under small obligations by performing 
trivial services. In Henry IV., Pt. I. iii. 2, " smiling pick- 
thanks and base news mongers." 

5 Blab it wist and out it must. 

Labbe hyt whyste 
and owt yt muste. 

MS. Harleian, circa 1490. 

6 Have an ore in every maris barge. 

Somewhat earlier, the proverb is found in a ballad entitled 
" Long have I bene a singing man," by John Redford, circa 1 540. 

7 Coll under candlestick. 

There was a Christmas game so called. The meaning of 
" coll " is to embrace, to kiss. 


Dissimulation well she understandes. 

She is lost with an apple and woon with a mit;* 

Her toung is no edge-too le but yet it will cut. 

But little titte all tayle ; I have heard ere this, 

As high as two horse loves ^ her person is. 

For privy nips or castes overthwart 10 the shinnes, 

Hee shall leese the maistry that with her beginnes. 

Shee is, to turne love to hate, or joy to greefe, 

A paterne as meete as a rope for a theefe. 

Her promise of friendship for any availe, 

Is as sure to hold as an ele by the tayle. 

Shee is nether fish, nor flesh, nor good red herring.^ 

Shee is a ringleader there. And I fearing 

8 Lost with an apple and woon with a nut. 

Exactly similar to this is the proverb occurring in GASCOIGNE'S 
I Ferdinando : 

Nor woman true, but even as stories tell 
Wonne with an egge and lost againe with shell. 

9 As high as two horse loves. 

It was formerly not unusual to feed horses on loaves of bread, 
composed of wheat and beans. These loaves became jocularly 
a standard of measurement. 

Her stature scant three horse loaves did exceed. HARRING- 
TON'S Ariosto. 

10 Overthwart. 

It is singular that the word " overthwart," though common 
with his contemporaries, is not once used by Shakespeare. 

11 Nether fish, nor flesh, nor good red herring. 

I have discovered no earlier instance of the use of this proverb, 
though a simpler form is frequently to be met with, as : 


She would spit her venim, thought it not evil 

To set up a candle before the devill. 1 * 

I clawd her by the backe in way of a charme, 

To do me, not the more good, but the lesse harme ; 

Praying her, in her eare, on my syde to houlde ; 

Shee thereto swearing by her false fayth, she would. 

Streight after dinner myne aunt had no choice, 

But other burst, or burst out in Pilats voice. 

Yee huswife, what wind blowth ye hyther this night ? 

Yee might have knockt ere ye came in, leave is light. 

Better unborne then untaught I have heard say ; 

But ye be better fed then taught farre away. 

Not very fat fed, sayd this flebergebet ; 14 

Prince Henry. An otter, sir John ! why an otter ? 
Falstaff. Why ? she is neither fish nor flesh ; a man knows not 
where to have her. 

Later the proverb occurs in DRYDEN, Epilogue to the Duke of 
Guise : 

Damned neuters in their middle way of steering, 
Are neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring. 

12 To set up a candle before the devill. 

Roger. Troth Mistresse, what doe I looke like now ? 

Bella/route. Like as you are : a panderly, sixpenny rascall. 

Roger. I may thanke you for that : in faith I looke like an old 
Proverbe, Hold the candle before the devill. DECKER'S Honest 
W , 1604. 

13 Better unborne then untaught. 

Old men yn proverbe sayde by old tyme, ' A chyld were beter to 
be unbore, Than to be untaught/ SYMON'S Lessons of Wysedome 
for all Maner Chyldryn, circa 1450. 

14 Flebergebet. 

Fratteretto, Fleberdigebet, Hoberdidanas, Torobatto, were four 


But neede hath no law; need maketh her hither jet. 
She comth, neece Ales, (quoth she), for that is her name, 
More for neede than for kyndnes, peine of shame. 
Howbeit she cannot lacke, for he fyndeth that seekes ; 
Lovers live by love as Larkes live by leekes ; 
Sayd this Ales, much more than halfe in mockage. 
Tush, (quoth myne aunt), these lovers in dotage 
Thinke the ground beare them not, but wed of corage 
They must in all hast ; though a leafe of borage 
Might buye all the substance that they can sell. 
Well aunt, (quoth Ales), all is well that cndes well. 
Yea, Ales, of a good beginning comth a good end. 15 
Not so good to borow, as be able to lend. 
Nay indeed aunt, (quoth she), it is sure so ; 
She must needes graunt she hath wrought her own woe. 
She thought, Ales, shee had seene far in a milstone^ 

devils of the round or morice ; these four had forty assistants 
under them, as themselves do confesse. HARSENET'S Declara- 
tion of Popish Impostures. 

15 Of a good beginning comth a good end. 

But in proverbe I have herde saie, 
That who that well his warke beginneth, 
The rather a good ende he winneth. 

GOWER, Confessio A mantis. 

16 Seene far in a mi 1st one. 

Another illustration of the early use of this proverbial saying 
may be culled from LYLY'S Euphues and his England. 

Then Fidus, your eies are so sharp that you cannot onely 
looke through a milstone, but cleane through the minde, and so 
cunning that you can levell at the dispositions of women you 
never knew. 


When she got a husband, and namely such one, 

As they by wedding could not onely nought win, 

But lose both living and love of all their kin. 

Good aunt, (quoth I), humbly I beseech yee, 

My trespasse done unto you forgive it me. 

I know and knowledge I have wrought mine own payne, 

But thinges past my handes, I can not call agayne. 

True, (quoth Ales), thinges done cannot be undone, 

Be they done in due tyme, too late or too soone : 

But better late then never 11 to repent this. 

Too late, (quoth myne aunt), this repentaunce shewd 


When the steede is stolne shut the stable durre 
I tooke her for a rose, but she breedeth a bur re. 

17 Better late then never. 

Again in TUSSER'S Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry . 

18 When the steede is stolne shut the stable diirre. 

Quant fol par noun saver 
Ad perdu soun aver, 
E il est ben matez 
E ? eus garder nel saver 
Mes si ore le avei 
Touz tens averei asez 

Quant le cheval est enable* dounke ferme fols Testable. 
Ces dist le vilain. 

Les Proverbes del Vilain, circa 1300. 

The steede was stollen before I shut the gate, 
The cates consumed before I smelt the feast. 

Devises of Sundrie Gentlemen. 


Shee comth to sticke to me now in her lacke, 

Rather to rent off my clothes from my backe, 

Than to doe me one farthing woorth of good. 

/ see day at this title hole. For this hood 

Shewth what fruite will follow. In good faith; I sayd, 

In way of your petition I sue for your ayd. 

A well, (quoth she), now I well understand, 

The walking staff e hath caught warmth in your hand. 

A cleane fingred huswife, and an idle, folke say, 

And will be lyme-fingred, I feare by my faye. 

It is as tender as a Parsons lemman ; 

Nought can shee dooe, and what can shee have than ? 

As sober as shee seemeth fewe dayes come about, 

But shee will once wash her face in an ale clout ; 

And then betweene her and the rest of the rout, 

I proud, and thou proud, who shall beare th 'ashes out. 

She may not beare a feather, but shee must breath, 

She maketh so much of her paynted sheath. 

She thinkes her farthing good silver,^ I tell you, 

Rut for a farthing who ever did sell you, 

Might bostyou to be better solde than bought. 

And yet though she be worth nought, nor have nought, 

19 She thinkes her farthing good silver. 

Pandarina. Take example at me ; I tell you I thought my half- 
peny good silver within these few yeares past, and no man esteem- 
eth me unlesseit be for counsell. GASCOIGNE'S Glasse of Govern- 
ment, 1575- 


Her gowne is gayer and better then myne. 

At her gaye gowne, (quoth Ales), ye may repine, 

How be it as we may, we love to goe gay all. 

Well, well, (quoth myne aunt),/r^ will have a fall ; 

For pryde goeth before and shame commeth after. ^ 

Sure, (sayd Ales), in manner of mocking laughter, 

There is nothing in this world that agreeth wurse, 

Then doth a Ladies hart and a beggers purse. 

But pryde she sheweth none, her looke reason alloweth, 

Site lookth as butter would not melt in her mouth^ 

Well, the still sow eats up all the draffe? Ales. 

20 Pryde goeth before, &>c. 

Pryde gothe before and shame cometh behynde : 
Alas that Englyshe men sholde be so blynde, 
So moche sorowe amonge us and so lytell fere 
We may wayle the tyme that ever it came here. 

Treatise of a Gallant, circa 1510. 

21 She lookth as butter would not melt in her mouth. 

A cette parolle mist dame Mehault ses mains a ses costez et en 
grant couroux luy respondy que. . . . et que, Dieu merci, ain- 
cores fondoit le burre en sa bouche, combien qu'elle ne peust cro- 
quier noisettes, car elle n'avoit que un seul dent. Les Evangiles 
des Quenouilles, circa 1475. 

1 The still sow eats up all the draffe. 

A "still sow "was a term of reproach for a sly lurking fellow ; 
"draff" is anything unfit for human food. 

Mrs. Page. Wives may be merry, and yet honest too : 
We do not act, that often jest and laugh ; 
'Tis old but true, stil swine eat all the draff. 

Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 2. 


All is not gold that glisters * by told tales. 
In youth she was toward and without evill ; 
But soone ripe, so one rotten / 3 yong saint ', old devill.* 
How be it, lo God sendth the shrewd cowe short homes? 
While she was in this house she sate upon thornes, 
Each on day was three, till liberty was borow, 
For one months joy to bring her whole lyves sorow. 
It were pitty, (quoth Ales), but she should do well ; 
For beauty and stature she beareth the bell? j */ $/ (.' : 

2 All is not gold that glisters. 

Uns proverbes dit et raconte 

Que tout n'est pas ors c'on voit luire. 

Li Diz de freire Denise cordelier, circa 1300. 
All things that shineth is not by and by pure gold. Ralph 
Roister Doister, 1 566. 

Is found in CHAUCER'S Chanones Yemannes Tale, and in 
LYDGATE'S poem On the Mutability of Human Affairs. 

3 Soone ripe, soone rotten. 

Occurs in H ARMAN'S Caveat for Common Cursitors, 1567. 

4 Yong saint, old devill. 

Young seynt, old devyl. MS. Harleian, circa 1490. 

* God sendth the shrewd cowe short homes. 

The Bishop of Sarum sayd, That he trusted ere Christmas Day 
to visit and cleanse a good part of the kingdom. But most com- 
monly God sendeth a shrewd cow short horns, or else many a 
thousand in England had smarted. FOXE, Acts und Monuments. 

6 She beareth the bell. 

In horse-racing, a bell was formerly the prize competed for, 
hence the epitaph : 

Here lyes the man whose horse did gaine 
The bell, in race on Salisbury plain. 


Illweedegroivthfast, T Ales : whereby the corne is lorne ; 
For surely the weede overgroweth the corne. 
Yee prayse the wine before yee taste of the grape ; 
But she can no more harme than can a shee ape. 
It is a good body, her property preeves : 
Shee lacketh but even a new pare of sleeves. 
If I may, (as they say), tell troth without sinne, 
Of troth she is a wolfe in a lambes skinne. 
Her hart is ful hie, when her eie is ful low ; 
A guest as good lost as found, for all this show ; 
But many a good cow hath an evill caulfe. 
I speake this daughter in thy mother's behalfe, 
My sister, (God rest her soule), whom though I bost, 
Was cald the floure of honesty in this cost. 
Aunt, (quoth I), I take for father and mother, 
Myne uncle and you above all other. 
When we would, ye would not be our child, (quoth she) ; 
.Wherefore now whan yee would, now will not wee. 

7 /// weede growth fast. 

Mother. Good Lord ! 

How you have grown ! Is he not Alexander ? 
Alex. Yes, truly, he's shot up finely, God be thanked ! 
Mercury. An ill weed, mother, will do so. 
Alex. You say true, sir, an ill weed grows apace 

Ewyl weed ys sone y-growe. 

MS. Harleian, circa 1490. 


Since thou wouldst needes cast away thy selfe thus, 
Thou shalt sure sinke in thyne owne sinne for us. 
Aunt, (quoth I), after a doting or drunken deede, 
Let submission obtayne some mercy or meede. 
Hee that kilth a man when he is drunke, (quoth she), 
Shal be hangd when he is sober. And he 
Whom in itching no scratching will forbeare, 
He must beare the smarting that shall follow there. 
And thou being borne very nigh of my stocke, 
Though nye be my kirtell, yet neere is my smocked 
I have one of myne owne whome I must looke to. 
Yea aunt, (quoth Ales), that thing must ye needes doe ; 
Nature compelth you to set your own first up ; 
For I have heard say, it is a deere collup 9 
That is cut out of th owne flesh. But yet aunt, 
So small may her request be, that ye may grant 
To satisfy the same, which may do her good, 
And you no harme, in avauncing of your owne blood. 

8 Though nye be my kirtell, &c. 

Beside, there is a antiquitie a proverb no lesse practised then 
common, which is, Nearer unto mee is my shirt then my coate ; by 
following of which, every man commonly loveth his owne profit 
more then others. The Contention betweene three Brethren; 
the Whore-monger, the Drunkard, and the Dice Player, 1608. 

9 Collup. 

God knows thou art a colup of my flesh. 

i Henry VI. v. 5^ 


And cosin, (quoth she to me), what ye would crave, 
Declare, that our aunt may know what ye would have ? 
Nay, (quoth I), be the winners all loosers, 
Folke say alway, beggers should be no choosers. 10 
With thanks I shal take what ever myne aunt please ; 
Where nothing is, a little thing doth ease ; 
Hunger maketh hard beans sweet. Where saddles lack, 
Better ryde on a pad than on the horse bare backe. 
And by this proverbe appeareth this one thing, 
That alway somewhat is better then nothing. 
Hold fast whan ye have it, (quoth she) ; by my lyfe, 
The boy thy husband, and thou the girle, his wife, 
Shall not consume that I have labored fore. 
Thou art yong ynough, and I can worke no more. 
Kyt Calot^ my cosin, saw this thus farre on, 

10 Beggers should be no choosers. 

Loveless. What dost thou mean to do with thy children, Savil ? 

SaviL My eldest boy is half a rogue already ; 
He was born bursten ; and your worship knows, 
That is a pretty step to men's companions. 
My youngest boy I purpose, sir, to bind 
For ten years to a gaoler, to draw under him, 
That he may shew us mercy in his function, 

Beggers must be no choosers ; 

In every place, I take it, but the stocks. 

BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER, Scornful Lady, v. 3. 

11 Kyt Calot. 

Kit Callot and Giles Hather are said to have been the first 


And in myne auntes eare she whispreth anon, 
Roundly these wordes, to make this matter whole, 
Aunt, let them that be a colde blow at the cole. 1 - 
They shall for me, Ales, (quoth she), by God's blist. 
She and I have shaken handes. Farewell unkist* 
And thus with a beck as good as a dieu-gardy 
She flang fro me, and I from her hitherward. 
Begging of her booteth not the woorth of a beane ; 
Little knoweth the fat sow what the leane doth meane*. 
Forsooth, (quoth I), ye have bestird ye well ; 
But where was your uncle while all this fray fell ? 
Asleepe by, (quoth she), routing lyke a hogge ; 
And it is evill waking of a sleeping dogge. 
The bitch and her whelpe might have bene a sleepe 


For ought they in waking to me would doo. 
Fare ye well, (quoth she). I will now home straight, 
And at my husbandes handes for better newes weight, 

English persons who took up the occupation of gipsies. Hence 
the use of the word 'calot' as a term of abuse. It is variously 1 
spelt and is used generally to denote a scold or infamous woman-. 1 

Gogs bread ! and thinkes the callet thus to keep the neele me 
fro. Gammer Gurtons Needle, 1560. 
12 Let them that be a colde blow at the cole. 
Our talwod is all brent, 
Our fagottes are all spent,. 
We may blow at the cole. 
Why come ye not to Court, by JOHN SKELTON, circa 1520. 



j E that came to me the next day before noone : 
What tydinges now, (quoth I), how have ye 

doone ? 

Upon our departing, (quoth he), yesterday, 
Toward myne uncle's, somewhat more than midway, 
I overtooke a man, a servant of his, 
And a frend of myne. Who gessed streight with this 
What myne errand was, offring in the same 
To doe his best for me ; and so in God's name 
Thither we went ; no body being within, 
But myne uncle, myne aunt, and one of our kin, 
A made knave, as it were a rayling gester, 
Not a more gaggling gander hence to Chester. 
At sight of me he asked, who have we there ? 
I have seene this gentleman, if I wist where ; 
How be it, lo, seldom seene, soone forgotten. 
He was, (as he will be), some what cupshotten. 
Sixe dayes in the weeke, beside the market day, 
Malt is above wheat with him, market men say. 
But for as much as I saw the same taunt, 
Contented well mine uncle and myne aunt, 


And that I came to fall in and not to fall out, 

I forbare, or else his drunken red snout 

I would have made as oft to chaunge from hew to 


As doth cockes of Inde. For this is true, 
It is a small hop on the thombe. 13 And Christ wot, 
It is wood at a woord ; li tie pot soone hot^ 
Now mery as a cricket, and by and by, 
Angry as a waspe, though in both no cause why. 
But he was at home there, he might speake his will, 
Every cocke is proud on his owne dunghill.'*- 5 
I shall be even with him herein when I can. 
But he having done, thus myne uncle began, 
Ye marchant what attempth you to attempt us, 
To come on us before the messenger thus ? 

13 Hop on the thombe. 

A term of contempt applied to diminutive persons. 
Plain friend hop o' my thumb, know you who we are ? Taming 
of the Shrew. 

14 Little pot soone hot. 

Now were I not a little pot, and soon hot, my very lips might 
freeze to my very teeth, .... for, considering the weather, a taller 
man than I will take cold. Taming of the Shrew , iv. i. 

15 Every cocke is proude on his owne dunghill. 

J?et fleshs is her et home, ase eorSe, f>et is et eorfce : aut for J>ui 
hit is cwointe ^ cwiuer, e ase me sei$, " J?et coc is kene on his 
owne mixenne." Ve Ancren Riwle, circa 1250. 


Roming in and out, I here tell how ye tosse, 

But sonne, the rolling stone never gather th mossed 

Lyke a pickpurse pilgrim ye prie and ye proule 

At rovers, to robbe Peter and pay Ponied 

I wis I know ere any more be tolde, 

That draff e is your errand, but drinke ye wold. lQ 

Uncle, (quoth I), of the cause for which I come, 

I pray you patiently heare the whole summe. 

In fayth, (quoth hee), without any more summing, 

16 The rolling stone never gather th mosse. 

Herod. Speake thou three-legd tripos, is thy shippe of fooles 
a flote yet ? 

Dondolo. I ha many things in my head to tell you. 

Herod. I, thy head is alwaies working ; it roles, and it roles, 
Dondolo, but it gathers no mosse, Dondolo. The Fawn, 1606, 

Pierre volage ne queult mousse. De Thermite quisedesespe'ra 
pour le larron qui ala enparadis avant que lui, I3th century. 

17 To robbe Peter and pay Poule. 

The proverb is said to have derived its origin when, in the 
reign of Edward VI., the lands of St. Peter at Westminster were 
appropriated to raise money for the repair of St. Paul's in London. 
It must be recollected that the first edition of Hey wood's book 
appeared at the precise time that this arrangement was either 
being determined upon or being executed. The French form of 
the proverb, " ddcouvrir saint Pierre pour couvrir saint Paul" 
gives additional colouring to the statement. 

18 Draffe is your errand, but drinke ye wold. 
Again in LYLY'S Euphues^ 1579. 


I know to beg of me is thy comming. 
Forsoth, (quoth his man), it is so indeede ; 
And I dare boldly boste, if yee knew his neede, 
Yee would of pitty yet set him in some stay. 
Sonne, better be envied than pitied, folke say : 
And for his cause of pitye, (had hee had grace), 
Hee might this day have bene cleere out of the case, 
But now hee hath well fisht and caught afrogge ; 19 
Where nought is to wed with, wise men flee the clog?" 
Where I, (quoth I), did not as yee will or bad, 
That repent I oft, and as oft wish I had. 
Sonne, (quoth he), as I have heard of myne olders, 

Well fisht and caught afrogge. 
So again writes LATIMER in his Remaines : 
Well I have fished and caught a frog, 
Brought little to pass with much ado. 

20 "A clog" from originally meaning an incumbrance, came in 
process of time to mean a wife. In its latter sense we find its 
use as well as its definition in a very early literary remnant : 

Science. Ye have woon me for ever dowghter. 
Although ye have woon a clogg wyth all. 

Wyt. A clogg, sweete hart, what ? 

Science. Such as doth fall 
To all men that joyne themselves in marriage. 

Play of Wyt and Science, circa 1 540. 

Again in Winter's Tale, iv. 4 : 

The prince himself is about a piece of iniquity, 
Stealing away from his father with his clog at his heels. 


Wishers and wolders bee no good housholders / 
This proverbe for a lesson, with such other. 
Not lyke, (as who sath), the sonne of my brother, 
But lyke myne owne sonne, I oft before told thee 
To cast her quite of, but it would not hold thee. 
Whan I wild thee any other whether to goe, 
Tush, there was no moe maydes but Malkin 1 thoe ! 
Yee had been lost, to lacke your lust when yee list, 
By two myles trudging twise a weeke to bee kist. 
I would yee had kist, well I will no more sturre ; 
// is good to have a hatch before the durre? 

1 Wishers and wolders bee no good housholders. 

The earliest occurrence of this proverb is probably that in 
Vulgaria Stambrigi, printed circa 1510 : 

Wysshers and wolders ben smal housholders. 

Francisco was set at libertie and hee and Isabel, joyntly toge- 
ther taking themselves to a little cottage, began to be as Ctcero- 
nicall as they were amorous .... for he being a scholer, and 
nurst up at the universities, resolved rather to live by his wit, then 
any way to be pinched with want, thinking this old sentence to 
be true, the wishers and woulders were never good house-holders. 
GREEN'S Never too Late, 1590. 

2 Moe maydes but Malkin. 

" Malkin," a form of Mary, was used to denote a slattern, and 
in many parts of England is still the name for a scarecrow. 

The kitchen malkin pins 
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck. 

Coriolanus, ii. I, 

3 // is good to have a hatch before the durre. 

A hatch is a wooden partition coming over the lower half of a 


But who ivill in tyme present pleasure refrayne, 

Shall in time to come the more pleasure obtayne. 

Follow pleasure ', and then will pleasure flee ; 

Flee pleasure, and pleasure will follow thee. 

And how is my saying come to passe now ? 

How oft did I prophecie this betweene you 

And your Ginifmee Nycebecetur, 

Whan sweete sugre should turne to soure salt petur ? 

Whereby yee should in seeing that yee never saw, 

Thinke that you never thought, your selfe a daw. 4 

doorway and leaving open the upper half. In the time of Queen 
Elizabeth, disreputable houses were distinguished by hatches sur- 
mounted with iron spikes. To frequent places of that description 
was politely called " to go the manor of pickt hatch " ; and the 
nickname Pickt Hatch was bestowed on certain parts of Eliza- 
bethan London in the neighbourhood of Turnmill Street, Clerk- 
enwell. So we find in Merry Wives of Windsor, 

To your manor of pickt hatch go ! 
4 A daw, i. e., a foolish fellow. 

Humphrey Dixon said of Nicholas Brestney, utter Barrester 
and Counsellor of Gray's-Inn. Thou a Barrester ? Thou art no 
Barrester, thou art a Barretor ; thou wert put from the Bar, and 
hou darest not shew thyself there. Thou study Law ? Thou 
hast as much wit as a Daw. Upon not guilty pleaded, the Jury 
found for the plaintiff, and assessed damages to ,23, upon which 
udgment was given : and in a Writ of Error in the Exchequer 
Chamber, the judgment was affirmed. Coke's Reports. 

Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw. 

I Henry VL ii. 4. 

An earlier instance of this application of the word is found in 
The Four Elements, circa 1510 : 


But that tyme yee thought me a daw, so that I 
Did no good in al my wordes then, save onely 
Approved this proverbe plaine and true matter ; 
A man may well bring a horse to the water, 
But he cannot make him drinke without he will. 
Colts, (quoth his man), may prove well with tatches ill, 
For of a ragged colt there comth a good horse? 
If he be good now, of his ill past no force. 
Well, he that hangeth himselfe on Sunday, (said he), 
Shall hang still uncut downe on Monday for me. 
/ have hangd up my hatchet, God speed him well. 
A wonder thing what things these old things tell. 
Cat after kinde good mouse hunt. And also 
Men say, kinde will creepe where it may not go e^ 
Commonly all things shewth from whence it camme ; 
The litter is like to the sire and the damme ; 

He that for commyn welth bysyly 
Studyeth and laboryth, and lyveth by Goddes law 
Except he waxe ryche, men count hym but a daw ! 

5 Of a ragged colt, &>c. 

Touchstone. This cannot be fained, sure. Heaven pardon my 
severitie ! " The ragged colt may prove a good horse." Eastward 
Hoe, 1605. 

6 Kinde will creepe where it may not goe. 

Thurio. How now, sir Proteus ? are you crept before us ? 
Proteus. Ay, gentle Thurio ; for you know that love 
Will creep in service when it cannot go. 

Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 2. 


How can the fo ale amble if the horse and mare trot? 

These sentences are assigned unto thy lot, 

By conditions of thy father and mother, 

My sister in law, and mine owne said brother. 

f > ' / ^ (R 

Thou followest their steps as right as a line. 
For when provander prickt them a little time, 
They did as thy wife and thou did, both dote 
Each on other; and being not worth a grote, 
Then went (witlesse) to wedding. Whereby at last 
They both went a begging. And even the like cast 
Hast thou ; thou wilt beg or steale ere thou die. 
Take heed, friend, I have seene as far come as nie. 
If ye seeke to finde things ere they be lost, 
Ye shall find one day ye come to your cost 
This doe I but repeate, for this I tolde thee ; 
And more I say, but I could not then hold thee ; 
Nor will not hold thee now ; nor such follie feele, 
To set at my heart that thou settest at thy heele. 
And as of my good ere I one grote give, 
I will see how my wife and my selfe may live. 
Thou goest a gleaning ere the cart have carried, 
But ere thou gleane ought, since thou wouldst be married . 
Shall I make thee laugh now, and my selfe weepe then ? 
Nay good childe, better children weepe then old men. 1 

7 Better children weepe then old men. 

These words are memorable from a well-known episode in the 


Men should not prease much to spend much upon fooles ; 
Fish is castaway that is cast in drie pooles. 
To flee charge, and finde ease, ye would now here oste ; 
It is easie to crie ble* at other mens cost ; 
But a bow long bent, at length must ware weake. 
Long bent I toward you, but that bent I will breake. 
Fare well, and feede full, that love ye well to doo, 
But you lust not to doe that longeth theretoo. 
The cat would eate fish and would not wet her feete? 
They must hunger in frost that will not worke in heete. 
And he that will thrive must aske leave of his wife; 10 
But your wife will give none ; by your and her life, 

Gowrie conspiracy. King James VI. about to depart fron Gowrie 
Castle was forcibly prevented by the Master of Glammis, and as 
the tears started to the eyes of the young king, " better bairns 
weep than bearded men" is recorded to have been the other's 

8 To cry ble. 

One of the Hundred Mery Tales, circa 1525, is entitled " Of 
the husbande that cryed ble under the bed." 

9 The cat would eate fish and would not wet herfeete. 
Shakespeare thus alludes to this proverb in Macbeth: 

Letting, I dare not, wait upon, I would, 
Like the poor cat r* the adage. 

Cat lufat visch, ac he nele his feth wete. 

MS. Trin. Coll. Camb., circa 1250. 

10 He that will thrive, &>c. 

Another proverb rather more vaguely lays down the conditions 
of prosperity : 


// is hard to wive and thrive both in ay eare. 11 

Thus by wiving, thy thriving doth so appeare, 

That thou art past thrift before thrift begin. I J| 

But loe, will will have will, though will woe win. 

Will is a good sonne and will is a shrewd boy : 

And wilfull shrewd will hath wrought thee this toy, 

A gentle white spurre, and at neede a sure speare ; 

He standeth now as he had a flea in the eare. 

How be it for any great curtesie he doth make, 

It seemeth the gentleman hath eaten a stake. 

He beareth a dagger in his sleeve, trust me, 

To kill all that he meeteth prouder then he. 

He will perke, I heare say he must have the bench ; 

Jacke would be a gentleman if he could speake French?" 

He had a sonne or twaine he would advaunce, 
And sayd they should take paines untyll it fell ; 
He that wyll thrive (quod he) must tary chaunce. 

Debate betweene Pride and Lowliness, by FRANCIS THYNN, 

11 // is hard to wive and thrive both in a y eare. 

Primus Pastor. It is sayde full ryfe, 
A man may not wyfe 
And also thryfe 

And alle in a yere. 

Toivnely Mysteries, circa 1420. 

12 Jacke would be a gentleman if he could speake French. 
The proverb is obviously a relic of the Norman subver- 
sion of England. Speaking of the rule of the Anglo-Norman 


He thinketh his feete be where his head shall never 


He would faine flee, but he wanteth fethers, some. 
Sir, (quoth his man), he will no fault defend ; 
But hard is for any man all faults to mend ; 
He is liveles, that is faultles, old folkes thought. 
He hath, (quoth he), but one fault, he is starke nought. 
Well, (quoth his man), the best cart may overthrow. 
Carts well driven, (quoth he), goe long upright thow. 
But for my reward, let him no longer tarier ; 
/ will send it him by Jong Long the carier. 
O helpe him sir, (said he), since yee easily may. 
Sltamefull craving, (quoth he), must have shame full nay. 
Yee may sir, (quoth he), mend three nayes with one yee. 
Two false knaves neede no broker men say, (sayd hee). 

kings, the elder Disraeli writes : " This was the time when it 
was held a shame among Englishmen to appear English. It 
became proverbial to describe a Saxon who ambitioned some 
distinguished rank, that " he would be a gentleman if he could 
but talk French." Amenities of Literature. 

13 Two false knaves neede no broker. 

Some will say, 

A crafty knave need no broker, 
But here's a craftie knave and a broker too. 

A Knacke to Knowe a Knave, 1594. 

As two false knaves need no Broker, for they can easily 
enough agree in wickednesse fine mediante, without any to 
breake the matter betweene them : so among true and faithfull 
men, there need no others. A Sword against Swearers, 1611. 


Some say also, it is merry when knaves 

But the moe knaves, the woorse company to greet e ; 

The one knave now croucheth, while thother cravith. 

But to shew what shall be his relevavith, 

Either after my death, if my will bee kept, 

Or during my lyfe : had I this hall hept 

With gold, he may his part on good Fryday eate, 

And fast never the woorse for ought hee shall get 

These former lessons cond, take foorth this, sonne. 

Tell thy cards, and then tell me wliat thou hast won? 

Now here is the dore and there is the way : 

And so, (quoth hee), farewell gentle Geffray. 

Thus parted I from him, being much dismayde, 

A "broker 77 formerly meant any medium or go-between, 
hence also something discreditable. 

Madam, I am no broker ! 
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER, Valentin, ii. 2. 

14 // is merry when knaves meete. 

No more of Cocke now I wryte, 

But mery it is when knaves done mete. 

Cocke Lorelles Bote, circa 1510. 

Gentleman. But where's the new Booke thou telst me of? 

Prentice. Mary, looke you, sir : this is a prettie meeting here 
in London betweene a Wife, a Widow, and a Mayde. 

Gentleman. Merrie meeting ? why that Title is stale. There's 
a Boke cald Tis merry when knaves meete, and there's a Ballad 
Tis merry when Malt-men meete ; and besides there's an old 
Proverbe The more the merrier. Tis Merrie when Gossips 
meete, by SAMUEL ROWLANDS, 1602. 


Which his man saw, and to comfort mee, sayd : 

What man, plucke up your harte, bee of good cheere ! 

After cloudes blacke, wee shall have wether deere. 

What should your face thus againe the wool be shorne 

For one fall ? What man all this wind shakes no corne ! 

Let this wind overblow ; a tyme I will spye, 

To take winde and tyde with mee and speed thereby. 

I thanke you, (quoth I), but^raztf boste and small roste 

Maketh unsavery mouthes, where ever men oste. 

And this bost very unsavorly serveth, 

For while the grasse groweth the horse starveth. 15 

Better one byrde in hand than ten in the wood^ 

Rome was not built in one day (quoth he), 17 and yet stood 

15 While the grasse groiveth, &>c. 

Whylst grass doth growe, oft sterves the seely steede. 

WHETSTONE'S Promos and Cassandra, 1578. 

Hamlet. Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows, 
The proverb is something musty. 

Hamlet, iii. 2. 

16 Better one byrde in hand, &c. 

An old proverbe makyth with thys whyche I tak good. 
Better one byrd in hand then ten in the wood. 

HEYWOOD'S Dialogiie on Wit and Folly, circa 1530. 

17 Rome was not built in one day. 

Haec tamen vulgaris sententia me aliquantulum recreavit, quse 
etsi non auferre, tamen minuerepossitdoloremmeum,quas quidem 
sententia haec est, Romam uno die non fuisse conditam. Extem- 
pore speech by Queen Elizabeth before the University of Cam- 
bridge, 9th August, 1564. 


Till it was finisht, as some say, full fayre. 

Your heart is in your hose all in dispayre. 

But as every man sayeth a dog hath a day, 

Should a man dispayre than any day ? nay. 

Yee have many strings to your bowe^ for yee know, 

Though I, having the bent of your uncles bow, 

Can no way bring your bolt in the butte to stand ; 

Yet have yee other markes to rove at hand. 

The kayes hang not all by one man's girdle, man. 

Though nought will be woon here, I say, yet yee can 

Taste other kinsmen, of whom yee may get 

Here some and there some, many small make a gre at ^ 

Your heart is in your hose. 

Primus Pastor. Breck outt youre voce, let se as ye yelp. 
Tercius Pastor. I may not for the pose hot I have help. 
Secundus Pastor. A, thy hert is in thy hose. 

Towmley Mysteries, circa 1430. 

19 Yee have many strings to your bo we. 

I am wel pleased to take any coulor to defend your honor, and 
hope that you wyl remember, that who seakech two stringes to 
one bowe, the may shute strong, but never strait ; and if you 
suppose that princes causes be vailed so covertly that no intelli- 
gence can bewraye them, deceave not your-selfe ; we old foxes can 
find shiftes to save ourselves by others malice and come by 
knowledge of greattest secreat, spetiallye if it touche our freholde. 
Letter of Queen Elizabeth to James VI. , June, 1585. 

20 Many small make a great. 

The proverbe saith that many a small makith a grete. 
CHAUCER, Persons Tale. 


For come light winnings with blessings or curses, 

Evermore light gaynes make heavie purses. 

Children learne to creepe ere they can learne to goe ; 

By little and little yee must learne even so. 

Throw no gift againe at the givers head ; 

For better is halfe a lofe than no bread. 

I may begge my bread, (quoth I), for my kin all 

That dwelth nye. Well yet, (quoth he), and the worst 


Yee may to your kinsman, hence nine or ten myle, 
Rich without charge, whom yee saw not of long while. 
That bench whistler, (quoth I), is a pinchpeny, 
As free of gift as a poor e man of his eye. 
He is hie in th instep, and so sir eight laste, 
That pride and covetyse withdraweth all repaste. 
Yee know what he hath been, (quoth he), but ywis, 
Absence sayth plainely, ye know not what he is. 
Men know, (quoth I), I have heard now and then, 
How the market goeth by the market men. 
Further it is said, who that saying wayeth, 
// must needs be true that every man sayeth. 
Men say also, children and fooles cannot lye / 

1 Children and fooles cannot lye. 

Master Constable says : " You know neighbours 'tis an old saw, 
Children and fooles speake true." LYLY'S Endimion, 1591. 


And both man and childe sayth, he is a hensby. 

And myselfe knowth him, I dare boldly brag, 

Even as well as the begger knowth his bag? 1 

And I knew him not worth a gray grote ; 

He was at an ebbe, though he be now a flote. 

Poore as the poorest. And now nought he setteth 

By poore folke. For the parish priest forgetteth 

That ever he hath been holy water Clarke. 

By ought I can now heare, or ever could marke, 

Of no man hath he pitie or compassion. 

Well, (quoth he), every man after his fashion. 

He may yet pitie you, for ought doth appeare : 

// hapth in one houre that hapth not in seven y ear e. 

Forspeake not your fortune, nor hide not your neede ; 

Nought venter nought have; spare to speak, spare to speed; 

Unknowne, unkist ; it is lost that is unsought. 

As goodseeke nought, (quoth I), as seeke andfinde nought. 

It is, (quoth I), ill fishing before the net. 

But though we get little, deare bought and far fet 

Are dainties for Ladies? Goe we both two ; 

2 As well as the begger knowth his bag. 

As well as the begger knows his dish, is another form of this 
proverb found in The Burning of Paules Church in London, by 


8 Deare bought and far fet are dainties for Ladies. 
Niece. Ay, marry, sir, this was a rich conceit indeed. 


I have for my master thereby to doo. 
I may breake a dish there. And sure I shall 
Set all at sixe and seven? to win some windfall. 
And I will hang the bell about the cats necke * 
For I will first breake and jeoperd the first checke. 

Pompey. And far fetched ; therefore good for you, lady. 
BEAUMONT and FLETCHER, Wit at several 

Some far fet trick, good for ladies, some stale toy or other. 

MARSTON'S Malcontent. 

4 Set all at sixe and seven. 

In the Towneley Mysteries the Deity is described as He that 
" set alle on seven/' that is, set or appointed everything in seven 
days. To set at six and seven, or more modernly, "to be at 
sixes and sevens," Mr. HalliweJl supposes to be the reverse of 
this, to disarrange, to put into disorder. 

Herod, in his anger at the Wise Men, exclaims : 

Bot be thay past me by, by Mahowne in heven, 
I shalle, and that in hy, set alle on sex and seven. 

Towneley Mysteries, circa 1420. 

All is uneven, 
And everything is left at six and seven. 

Richard 77, ii. 2. 

5 Hang the bell about the cat's necke. 
In SKELTON'S Colyn Clout, circa 1518. 

But, quoth one Mouse unto the rest, 
Which of us all dare be so stout 
To hang the bell cats neck about ?. 
If here be any, let him speake. 
Then all replicle. We are too weake : 
The stoutest Mouse and tallest Rat 
Doe tremble at a grim-fac'd Cat. 

Diogines Lanthorne, 1607. 


And for to win this pray, though the cost be mine, 

Let us present him with a bottle of wine. 

It is to give him, (quoth I), as much almes or neede, 

As cast water in Terns, or as good a deede 

As it is to helpe a dogge over a stile. 

Then goe we, (quoth he), we leese time all this while. 

To follow his fancie we went togither, 

And toward night yester night when we came thither, 

She was within, but he was yet abrode. 

And streight as she saw me she sweld like a tode } 

Pattring the divels Pater noster to her selfe. 

God never made a more crabbed elfe ! 

She bad him welcome, but the worse for me ; 

This knave comth a begging by me, thought she. 

I smeld her out, and had her streight in the winde. 

She may abide no beggers of any kinde. 

They be both greedy guts all given to get, 

They care not how : all is fish that comth to net? 

They know no end of their good : nor beginning 

Of any goodnes, such is wretched winning. 

Hunger droppeth even out of both their noses. 

6 All is fish that comth to net. 

But now (aye me) the glasing christal glasse 

Doth make us thinke that realmes and tovvnes are rych, 

Where favor sways the sentence of the law, 

Where al is fishe that cometh to net. 

GASCOIGNE'S Steele Glas, 1575. 


She goeth broken shoone and torne hoses. 

But who is worse shod than the shoomakers wife? 

With shops full of new shooes all her life ? 

Or who will doe lesse, than they that may doe most ? 

And namely of her I can no way make boste. 

She is one of them to who God bad hoe? 

She will all have, and will right nought forgoe. 

She will not fart with the paring of her nayles. 

She toyleth continually for avayles. 

Which life she hath so long kept in ure, 

That for no life she would make change, be sure. 

But this lesson learnd I ere I was yeares seaven, 

They that be in hell weene there is none other heaven. 

She is nothing fayre, but she is ill favourd ; 

And no more unclenely than unsweet savourd. 

1 Who is worse shod than the shoomakers wife ? 

This may be compared with another proverb touching the 
cobbler's craft, now probably obsolete : 

Heere are the tenne precepts to be observed in the art of 
scolding : therefore let not the cobler wade above his slipper. 
The cobler above his slipper, said Chubb, hee is a knave that 
made that proverb. Fearefull and lamentable Effects of two 
dangerous Comets, by SIMON SNEL-KNAVE, 1591. 

8 Hoe or whoe means a stop or limit, from the well-known 
exclamation used in arresting the attention of a person. Out of 
this sprang the phrase out of all hoe, meaning out of all bounds, 
beyond restraint. 

For he once loved the fair maid of Fresingfield out of all hoe. 
GREENE'S Fryer Bacon. 


But hackney men^ say at mangie hacknies hyre, 

A scald horse is good enough for a scabd squyre. < 

He is a knuckilbonyard very meete 

To match a minion neither fayre nor sweete. 

He winkth with the tone eye and looketh with the tother. 

I will not trust him though he were my brother. 

He hath a poyson wit and all his delite 

Is to give taunts and checks of most spitefull spite. 

In that house commonly, such is the cast, 

A man shall as soone breake his necke as his fast ; 

And yet now such a gid did her head take, 

That more for my mates then for manners sake, 

We had bread and drinke, and a cheese very great ; 

But the greatest crabs be not all the best meate. 

For her crabbed cheese, with all the greatnes, 

Might well abide the fineness or sweetnes. 

Anon he came in. And when he us saw, 

9 Hackney men at this date are understood to mean proprietors 
of horses lent for hire ; " a hackney " being the name for a saddle- 
horse. It was not until the reign of Charles I. that the title was 
transferred to the drivers of vehicles, the year 1625 being the 
date of the first appearance of hackney coaches in the streets of 
London. They were then only twenty in number, but the inno- 
vation occasioned an outcry which we find reflected in the pages 
of a then popular author : 

The world runs on wheeles. The hackney-men, who were wont 
to have furnished travellers in all places with fitting and service- 
able horses for any journey, (by the multitude of coaches) are un- 


To my companion kindly he did draw, 

And a well favourd welcome to him he yeelds, 

Bidding me welcome strangely over the fields, 

With these words ; Ah yong man, I know your matter, 

By my faith you come to looke in my watter : 

And for my comfort to your consolation, 

Ye would, by my purse, give me a purgation ; 

But I am laxative enough there otherwise. 

This, (quoth this yong man), contrary doth rise ; 

For he is purse sick, and lackth a Phisition, 

And hopeth upon you in some condition, 

Not by purgation, but by restorative, 

To strength his weaknes, to keepe him alive. 

I cannot, (quoth he), for though it be my lot 

To have speculation, yet I practise not. 

I see much, but I say little, and doe lesse, 

In this kind of Phisicke. And what would ye gesse, 

Shall I consume my selfe to restore him now ? 

Nay, backare, (quoth Mortimer to his Sow) ; 10 

done by the dozens, and the whole commonwealth most abomin- 
ably jaded, that in many places a man had as good to ride on a 
wooden post, as to poast it upon one of those hunger-starv'd 
hirelings. TAYLOR'S Works, 1630. 

10 Backare, (quoth Mortimer to his Sow). 
The allusion is lost, but the phrase would seem to have the 
meaning of " to recede," " to go back." 

Gremio. Saving your tale, Petruchio, I pray, 
Let us, that are poor petitioners, speak too : 
Baccare ! you are marvellous forward. 


He can, before this time, no time assine, 

In which he hath laid downe one peny by mine, 

That ever might either make me bite or sup ; 

And bir Lady, free[nd] ! nought lay downe, nought takeup. 

Ka mee, ka thee ; 13 one good turne asketh another. 

Nought woon by the tone, nought woon by the tother. 

To put me to cost thou camst halfe a score miles, 

Out of thine owne nest to seeke me in these out yles ; 

Where thou wilt not step over a straw, I thinke, 

To win me the worth of one draught of drinke, 

No more than I have wonne of all thy whole stocke. 

I have been common Jacke 12 to all that whole flocke ; 

When ought was to doe I was common hackney. 

Folke call on the horse that will carry alwey ; 

But evermore the common horse is worse shod. 

Desert and reward be oft times things far od. 

At end / might put my winning in mine eye, 

And see never the worse, 13 for ought I wan them by. 

11 Ka mee, ka thee. 

Skelton sayde then : Why, fellowe, haste thou hurt my mare ? 
Yea, sayde the hostler, ka me, ka thee : yf she dose hurte me, 
I wyll displease her. Merie Tales of SKELTON, 1567. 

12 Common Jacke. 

Jack is a familiar appellation for anything rather disparag- 
ingly spoken of. In the Taming of the Shrew, Katharine calls 
her music-master " a twangling jacke," and in Richard III. we 
have " silken, sly insinuating jacks." 

13 / might put my winning in mine eye, &*c. 

This expression is found Latinized in a letter of Erasmus, 


And now without them, I live here at staves end, 

Where I need not borow, nor will I lend. 

It is good to beware by other mens harmes ; 

But thy taking of thine aulter in thine armes 

Teacheth other to beware of their harmes by thine. 

Thou hast stricken the ball under the line. 

I pray you, (quoth I), pitie me a poore man, 

With somewhat till I may worke as I can. 

Toward your working, (quoth he), ye make such 


As approve you to be none of the hastings. 
Ye run to worke in haste as nine men heldyee ; 
But whensoever ye to worke must yelde yee, 
If your meet-mate and you meete together, 
Then shall we see two men beare a fether ; 
Recompensing former loytring life loose, 
As did the pure penitent who stole a goose 
And stack downe a fether. And where old folke tell, 

circa 1500. He is speaking of want of generosity in a certain 
Cardinal, of whom he says : 

Episcopo Leodiensi nunc Cardinal!, cui inscripsimus Epistolas 
ad Corinthios, cui libellum inauratum misimus, cui donavimus 
duo volumina Novi Testament! in membranis non ineleganter 
adornata neque pretii mediocris ut libenter debemus pro splen- 
didis promissis, quae non semel obtutit : ita non est, quod ill! pro 
donato teruncio gratias agamus. Tantum donavit, quantum si 
incidat in oculum quamvis tenerum nihil torment! sit allaturum : 
id ipse non inficiabitur. 


That evill gotten goods never proveth well; 

Ye will truly get, and true gettings well keepe, 

Till time ye be as rich as a new shorne sheepe. 1 * 

How be it when thrift and you fell first at a fray, 

You played the man, for ye made thrift run away. 

So helpe me God, in my poore opinion, 

A man might make a play of this minion, 

And faine no ground, but take tales of his owne frends. 15 

/ sucke not this out of my owne fingers ends. 

And sinse ye were wed, although I nought gave you, 

Yet pray I for you, God and saint Luke save you. 

14 As rich as a new shorne sheepe. 

The nexte that came was a coryar 

And a cobelar, his brother, 

As ryche as a new shorne shepe. 

Co eke Lore lies Bote, circa 1510. 

13 A man might make a play, &*. 

The meaning of this passage is that a dramatist who repre- 
sented such a character on the stage, would fill the house 
without a free list, making even his own friends pay. 

The "ground" was that part of a theatre corresponding to the 
" pit " of the present day, and the pitites were consequently 
called " groundlings." 

The stage curtains be artificially drawn, and so covertly 
shrouded that the squint-eyed groundling may not peep in. 
Lady Alimony, i. i.. 

The price of admission was one penny. 

Tut, give me the penny, give me the penny 
Let me have a good ground. 

BEN JONSON, Case is Altered. 


And here is all. For what should I further wade ? 

I was neither of Court nor of Counsaile made. 

And it is, as I have learned in listening, 

A poore dog, tliat is not worth the whistling. 

A day ere I was wed, I bad you, (quoth I). 

Scarborough warning I had (quoth he), whereby 

I kept me thence, to serve thee according ; 

And now if this nights lodging and bording 

May ease thee, and rid me from any more charge ; 

Then welcome, or els get thee streight at large. 

For of further reward, marke how I bost me, 

In case as ye shall yeeld me as ye cost me, 

So shall ye cost me as ye yeeld me likewise ; 

Which is, a thing of nought rightly to surmise. 

Herewithall his wife to make up my mouth, 

Not onely her husbands taunting tale avouth, 

But thereto deviseth to cast in my teeth 

Checks and choking oysters. And when she seeth 

Her time to take up, to shew my fare at best ; 

Ye see your fare, (sayd she), set your hart at rest. 

Fare ye well, (quoth I), how ever I fare now, 

And well mote ye fare both, when I dine with you. 

Come, goe we hence friend, (quoth I to my mate), 

And now will I make a crosse on this gate. 

And I, (quoth he), crosse thee quite out of my booke, 

Since thou art crosse sailde, avale unhappie hooke. 


By hooke or crooke^ nought could I win there : men say, 

He that comtk every day shall have a cocknay / 

He that cometh now and then, shall have a fat hen. 

But I gat not so much in comming seeld when, 

As a good hens fether, or a poore egshell. 

As good play for nought as worke for nought, folke tell. 

Well well, (quoth he), we be but where we were, 

Come what come would, I thought ere we came there, 

That if the worst fell, we could have but a nay. 

There is no harme done, man, in all this fray ; 

Neither pot broken, nor water spilt. 

Farewell he, (quoth I), I will as soone be hilt, 

As waite againe y for the moonshine in the watter. 

16 By hooke or crooke. 

The phrase derives its origin from the custom of certain 
manors where tenants are authorized to take fire-bote by hook 
or by crook j that is, so much of the underwood as may be cut 
with a crook, and so much of the loose timber as may be col- 
lected from the boughs by means of a hook. 

The story of the two arbitrators Judge Hook and Judge 
Crook, who sat to decide rival claims to property after the 
Great Fire of London, is of course entirely fallacious. 

One of the earliest instances that can be cited is from one of 
JOHN WYCLIFFE'S Controversial Tracts, written circa 1370 : 

J?ei sillen sacramentis, as ordris, and oere spiritualte, as 
halwyng of auteris, of churchis, and churche ?erdis ; and com- 
pellen men to bie alle J?is wij? hok or crok. 

Again, in SKELTON'S Colin Clout, 1520 : 
Nor will suffer this boke, 
By hooke or by crooke, 
Prynted for to be. 


But is not this a pretie piked matter ? 

To disdaine me, who much of the world hoordeth not, 

As he doth, it -may rime but it accordeth not? 1 

Shzfometh like a bore, the beast should seeme bolde ; 

For she is as fierce as a Lion of Cotsolde.^ 

She frieth in her owne grease^ but as for my part, 

If she be angrie, beshrew her angrie hart ! 

Friend, (quoth he), he may shew wisedome at will, 

That with angrie hart can hold his tongue still. 

Let patience grow in your garden alway. 

Some loose or od end will come, man, some one day, 

From some friend, either in life or at death. 

Death, (quoth I), take we that time to take a breath, 

Then graffe we a greene graffe on a rotten roote ; 

17 // may rime, but it accordeth not. 

It may wele ryme but it accordith nought. 

MS. poem by L YD GATE, " On Inconstancy' 1 

18 As fierce as a Lion of Cotsolde* 
DAVIES, in one of his Epigrams, has : 

Carlus is as furious as a lyon of Cotsold. 
Again, in the play of Sir John Oldcastle : 

You stale old ruffian, you lion of Cotsolde. 
The Cotswold hills in Gloucestershire were famous on account 
of the number of sheep fed there ; hence a Cotswold lion meant 
a Cotswold sheep. 

19 She frieth in her owne grease. 

But certeynly I made folk such chere 
That in his owne grees I made him frie. 

CHAUCER, Prologue of Wyf of Bathe. 
Prince Bismarck's recent application of the saying is well known. 


Who waitefor dead men shoen shall goe long barefooted 
Let passe, (quoth he), and let us be trudging, 
Where some nappie ale is and soft sweet lodging. 

1X^4. t| 

Be it, (quoth I), but I would very faine eate, 
At breakfast and dinner I eate little meate, 

* %&$: 

And two hungrie meales make the third a glutton. 

We went where we had boyld beefe and bakte mutton, 

Whereof I fed me as full as a tunne ; 

And a bed were we ere the clock had nine runne. 

Earely we rose, in haste to get away, 

And to the hostler this morning by day, 

This fellow calde. What how fellow, thou knave, 

I pray thee let me and my fellow have 

A haire of the dog that bit us 1 last night. 

And bitten were we both to the braine aright. 

20 Who waitefor dead men shoen shall go e long barefooie. 

Nicholas. You may speake when ye are spoken to, and keepe 
your winde to coole your pottage. Well, well, you are my 
maister's sbnne, and you looke for his lande ; but they that 
hope for dead mens shoes may hap go barefoote. Two angry 
Women of Abington, 1599. 

1 A haire of the dog that bit us. 

In old receipt books we find it invariably advised that an in- 
ebriate should drink sparingly in the morning some of the same 
liquor which he had drunk to excess over-night. 

Pepys records, under April 3, 1661 : 

Up among my workmen, my head akeing all day from last 
night's debauch. At noon dined with Sir W. Batten and Pen, 
who would have me drink two good draughts of sack to-day, to 
cure me of my last night's disease, which I thought strange, but 
I think find it true. 


We saw each other drunke in the good ale glas, 

And so did each one each other that there was, 

Save one, but old men say that are skild 

A hard foughten field where no man scapeth unkild. 

The reckning reckned, he needes would pay the shot? 

And needes he must for me, for I had it not. 

This done we shooke hands, and parted in fine ; 

He into his way, and I into mine. 

But this journey was quite out of my way, 

Many kinsfolke and few friends, some folke say ; 

But I finde many kinsfolke, and friend not one. 

Folke say, it hath been sayd many yeares since gone ; 

Prove thy friend ere tJwu have need ; but in deede, 

A friend is never knowne till a man Itave neede. 

Before I had neede, my most present foes 

Seemed my most friends, but thus the world goes. 

Every man basteth the fat hog> we see ; 

But the leane shall burne ere he basted bee. 

As saith this sentence, oft and long sayd before, 

He that hath plentie of goods shall have more ; 

He that hath but a little he shall have lesse. 

He that hath right nought, right nought shall possesse. 

Thus having right nought and would somewhat obtaine, 

With right nought, (quoth he), I am returned againe. 

2 Pay the shot. 

Well at your will ye shall be furnisht. But now a jugling 
tricke to pay the shot. Kind Harts Dreame, 1592. 



URELY, (quoth I), ye have in this time thus 


Made a long harvest for a little corne. 
Howbeit, comfort your selfe with this old text, 
That telth us ; when bale is hekst, boote is next? 
Though every man may not sit in the chaire, 
Yet alway the grace of God is worth a faire. 
Take no thought in case, God is where he was, 
And put case 4 in povertie all your life pas. 

3 When bale is hekst, boote is next. 

Equivalent to saying that when things are at worst they begin 
to mend. 

When bale is greatest, then is bote a nie bore. 

CHAUCER, Testament of Love. 

"When the bale is hest, 
Thenne is the bote nest," 
Quoth Hendyng. 

Proverbs of Hendyng) MS. circa 1320. 

4 Put case. 

An idiomatic expression used frequently in an argument, as, 

Put case there be three brethren, John-a-Nokes, John-a-Nash 
and John-a- Stile. Returnefrom Parnassus, 1606. 



Yet povertie and poore degree, taken well, 

Feedth on this ; he that never climbde never fell. 

And some case at some time shewth preefe somewhere 

That riches bring oft harme and ever fear e, 

Where povertie passeth without grudge of greefe. 

What man ! the begger may sing before the theefe. 

And who can sing so merrie a note. 

As may he that cannot change a grote f 

Ye, (quoth he), begger s may sing before theeves, 

And weepe before true men, lamenting their greeves. 

Some say, and I feele, hunger pearceth stone wall? 

Meate, nor yet money to buy meate withall, 

Have I not so much as may hunger defend 

Fro my wife and me. Well, (quoth I ), God will sen< 

Time to provide for time, right well ye shall see. 

God send that provision in time, (sayd hee). 

And thus seeming welnie wearie of his life, 

The poore wretch went to his like poore wretched wif( 

5 Hunger pearceth stone wall. 

Menenius. But, I beseech you, 
What says the other troop ? 

Martius. They are dissolved : Hang 'em ! 
They said, they were an-hungry ; sigh'd forth proverbs ; 
That, hunger broke stone walls ; that, dogs must eat ; 
That, meat was made for mouths, that, the Gods sent not 
Corn for the rich man only : With these shreds 
They vented their complainings. Coriolanus, i. ] 


From wantonnes to wretchednes, brought on their knees ; 
Their hearts full heavie, their heads f till of bees. 6 
And after this a month, or somewhat lesse, 
Their Landlord came to their house to make a stresse | 
For rent, to have kept Bayard in the stable. 
But that to win, any power was unable. 
For though it be ill playing with short daggers, 
Which meaneth, that every wise man staggers, 
In earnest or boord to be busie or bold 
With his biggers or betters, yet this is tolde ; 
Where as nothing is, the King must lose his right. 
And thus, King or Keyser must have set them quight. 
But warning to depart thence they needed none ; A {&*"*' 
For ere the next day the birds were flowne each one, .*J\ 

To seeke service ; of which where the man was sped, 
The wife could not speede, but maugre her hed, 
She must seeke elsewhere. For either there or nie, 
Service for any suite she none could espie. 
All folke thought them not onely too lither, 
To linger both in one house togither. 

6 Their heads full of bees. 

Means to project schemes ; thus differing from the phrase 
" to have a bee in one's bonnet," which is generally intended to 
denote a mild form of craziness. 

But, Wyll, my maister hath bees in his head. 

Damon and Pithias, 1571. 


But also dwelling nie under their wings, 

Under their noses they might convey things, 

Such as were neither too heavie nor too hot, 

More in a month then they their master got 

In a whole yeare. Whereto folke further weying, 

Receive each of other in their conveying, 

Might be worst of all. For this proverb preeves ; 

Where there be no receivers, there be no tkeeves. 1 

Such hap here hapt, that common dread of such guiles 

Drove them and keepth them asunder many miles. 

Thus though love decree departure death to bee, 

^^ipovertie parteth fellowship y we see ; 

And doth those two true lovers so dissever, 

That meete shall they seeld, when, or haply never. 

And thus by love without regard of living, 

These twaine have wrought each others ill chiving. 

And love hath so lost them the love of their friends, 

That I thinke them lost ; and thus this tale ends. 

7 Where there be no receivers, there be no theeves. 

And it is a comon sayinge, ware there no ryceyver there shoulde 
be no thefe. So ware there no stewes, there shulde not so many 
honeste mennes doughters rune awaye from there fathers and 
playe the whores as dothe. A Christen exhortation unto 
customable swearers, 1^75. 



sir, (sayd my friend), when men must needes 


I see now how wisedomeand haste may varry ; 
Namely where they wed for love altogither. 
I would for no good, but I had cqme hither. 
Sweet beautie with soure beggerie ? nay, I am gon 
To the wealthie withered widow, by Saint John. 
What yet in all haste, (quoth I). Yea, (quoth he), 
For she hath substance enough. And ye see, 
That lacke is the losse of these two yong fooles. 
Know ye not, (quoth I), that after wise mensschooles 
A man should heare all parts ere he judge any ? 
Why are ye that, (quoth he) ? For this, (quoth I) ; 
I tolde you, when I this began that I would 
Tell you of two couples. And I having told 
But of the tone, ye be streight starting away, 
As I of the tother had right nought to say, 
Or as your selfe of them right nought would heare. 
Nay not allso, (quoth he), but since I thinke cleare, 
There can no way appeare so painfull a life, 
Betweene your yong neighbour and his old rich wife, 
As this tale in this yong poore couple doth show, 
And that the most good or least ill ye know. 


To take at end, I was at beginning bent, 

With thankes for this and your more paine to prevent, 

Without any more matter now revolved, 

I take this matter here cleerely resolved. 

And that ye herein award me to forsake, 

Beggerly brautie, and riveld riches take. 

That's just, if the halfe shall judge the whole, (quoth I) ; 

But yet heare the whole, the whole wholly to try. 

To it, (quoth he), then I pray you by and by. 

We will dine first, (quoth he), it is noone by. 

We may as well, (quoth he), dine when this is done ; 

The longer for enoone, the shorter afternoone. 

All comth to one, and thereby men have gest ; 

Alway the longer east, the shorter west. 

We have had, (quoth I), before ye came, and sin, 

Weather, meete to sette paddocks abroode in, 

Raine more then enough ; and when all shrews have 


Change from foule weather to fair e is oft enclinde. 
And all the shrews in this part, saving one wife 
That must dine with us, have dinde, paine of my life. 
Now if good change of ill weather be depending 
Upon her diet, what were mine offending, 
To keepe the woman any longer fasting ? 
If ye, (quoth he), set all this far casting 
For common wealth, as it appeareth a cleere case, 
Reason would your will should and shall take place. 



yNNER cannot be long where dainties 

Where coyne is not comon, comons must 

be scant, 

In poste pase we past from potage to cheese, 
And yet this man cride, alas what time we leese. 
He would not let us pause after our repaste, 
But apart he pluckt me streight, and in all haste, 
As I of this poore yong man and poore yong maide, 
Or more poore yong wife, the foresaid words had saide, 
So praieth he me now the processe may be told, 
Betweene th'other yong man, and the rich widowe old. 
If yee lacke that, (quoth I), away ye must winde, 
With your whole errand, and halfe th' answer behinde. 
Which thing to doe, sens hast thereto shewth you loth 


And to hast your going, the day away goth, 
And that time lost, againe we cannot win, 
Without more losse of time, this tale I begin. 

In this late olde widowe, and then olde new wife, 

Age and appetite fell at a strong strife. 

Her lust was as yong as her lims were olde. 

The day of her wedding, liken one to be solde, 

She set out her selfe in fine apparell. 

She was made like a beere pot, or a barrell. 

A crooked hookde nose, beetle browde, blere eyed. 

Many men wisht, for beautifyng that bryde, 

Her waste to be gyrde in, and for a boone grace, 

Some well favourd visor, on her ill favourd face. 

But with visorlike visage, such as it was, 

Shee smirkt, and she smilde ; but so lisped this las, 

That folke might have thought it done, onely alone 

Of wantonnesse, had not her teeth been gone. 

Upright as a candell standth in a socket, 

Stoode she that day, so simper decocket? 

Of auncient fathers she tooke nb cure nor care, 

8 So simper decocket. 

And gray russet rocket 
With simper the cocket. 

SKELTON, The Tunnyng of Elynoure 

Rummy ng) 1520, 
The word means a coquettish girl. 


She was to them, as koy as Croker's mare. 

She tooke th' entertainment of the yong men 

All in daliaunce, as nice as a nunnes hen? 

I suppose that day her eares might well glow, 

For all the towne talkt of her hie and low. 

One sayd ; a well favourd olde woman she is ; 

The divell she is, saide another ; and to this, 

In came the third, with his five egges, and sayde ; 

Fiftie yere a goe I knew her a trym mayde. 

What ever she were then, (said one), she is now 

To become a bryde, as meete as a sow 

9 As nice as a nunnes hen. 

This proverb appears to have been in use a century previous 
to Heywood. 

Women, women, love of women, 
Make bare purs with some men. 
Some be nyse as a nonne hene, 

Yet al thei be not soo ; 
Some be lewde, some all be schrewde, 

Go schrewes wher thei goo. 

Satirical Verses on Women, 14.62. 

I knewe a priest that was as nice as a Nonnes Henne. 
WILSON'S Arte of Rhetorique, 1562. 

Another virtue is ascribed to this kind of poultry by the old 

I have the taught dyvysyon between 
Frende of effect, and frende of countenaunce ; 
The nedeth not the gall of none hen 
That cureth eyen. 

Proverbes of Lydgate, circa 1520. 


To beare a saddle. She is in this manage 

As comely as is a cowe in a cage. 

Gup, with a galde backe, gill, come up to supper. 

What, mine olde mare would have a new crupper ! 

And now mine olde hat must have a new band ! 

Well (quoth one) glad is he that hath her in hand ; 

A goodly mariage she is, I heare say. 

She is so, (quoth one), were the woman away. 

Well, (quoth another), fortune this moveth ; 

And in this case, every man as he loveth 

Quoth the good man, when that he kist his cowe. 

That kisse, (quoth one), doth well here, by .God a vowe ; 

But how can she give a kisse sowre or sweete ? 

Her chin and her nose within halfe an inche meete. 

God is no botcher, sir, sayd another ; 

He shapeth all parts, as eche part may fit other. 

Well, (quoth one), wisely ; let us leave this scanning. 

God speed e, be as be may is no banning. 

That shalbe, shalbe ; and with god's grace they shall 

Doe well, and that they so may, wish wee all. 

This wonder, (as wonders last), lasted nine daies. 
Which done, and all gests of this feast gone their waies, 

10 This wonder . . . lasted nine dates. 

The reason for assigning nine days as the period of duration is 


Ordinary houshold this man streight began 
Very sumptuously, which he might well doe than. 
What he would have, he might have ; his wife was set 
In such dotage of him, that faire words did fet 
Gromel-seede plenty ; and pleasure to prefer, 
Shee made much of him, and he mockt much of her. 
I was, (as I said), much there, and most of all, 
The first month, in which time such kindnesse did fall 
Betweene these two counterfaite turtle burds. 
To see his sweete looke, and heare her sweete wurds, 
And to thinke wherefore they both put both in ure, 
It would have made a horse breake his halter sure. 
All the first fortnight their tickyng might have tought 
Any yong couple their love trickes to have wrought. 
Some laught, and sayd ; all thing is gay that is greene. 
Some thereto said ; new brome swepth cleene. 
But since all thing is the woorse for the wearing, 
Decay of cleane sweeping folke had in fearing. 
And in deede, ere two monthes away were crept, 
And her biggest bagges into his bosome swept : 

not ascertained, but the proverb is traced to the works of 

Eke wonder last but nine deies never in town. 

CHAUCER, Troilus and Creseide. 

A book on any subject by a peasant, or a peer, is no longer so 
much as a nine-days wonder. ASCHAM'S Schoole-master. 


Where love had appeared in him to her away 
Hot as a toste, it grewe cold as kay^ 
Hee at meate carving her, and none els before, 
Now carved he to all but her, and to her no more. 
Where her words seemde hony, by his smiling cheare, 
Now are they mustard, he frowneth them to heare. 
And when shee sawe sweete sauce began to ware sowre, 
She waxt as sowre as he, and as well could lowre. 
So turned they their tippets 1 * by way of exchaunge, 
From laughing to lowring, and taunts did so raunge ; 
That in plaine termes, plaine truth to you to utter, 
They two agreed like two cats in a gutter. 
Mary sir, (quoth he), by scratching and biting. 
Cats and dogs come together, by folks reciting. 
Together by the eares they come, (quoth I), cheerely. 
How be it those wordes are not voide here cleerely ; 
For in one state they twaine could not yet settle, 

11 Cold as kay. 

Poor key-cold figure of a holy king. 

Richard III. i. 2. 

12 So turned they their tippets. 

"To turn tippet "meant, and means, to make a complete change. 
Now it is applied to one going over to an adversary ; formerly 
it was usually said of a maid becoming a wife. 

Another Bridget ; one that for a face 
Would put down Vesta ; 
You to turn tippet ! 

BEN JONSON, Case is Altered. 



But wavering as the winde ; in docke, out nettle 
Now in, now out ; now here, now there ; now sad, 
Now mery ; now hie, now lowe ; now good, now bad. 
In which unstedy sturdy stormes streinabl'e, 
To know how they both were irrefreynable, 
Marke how they fell out, and how they fell in, 
At end of a supper shee did thus begin. 

13 In do eke, out nettle. 

A charm for a nettle sting which had early passed into a proverb 
expressive of inconstancy. 

Ye wete well Ladie eke (quoth I) that I have not plaid racket, 
Nettle in, Docke out, and with this the weathercocke waved. 
CHAUCER, Testament of Love. 

Is this my in dock, out nettle ? 
MIDDLETON, More Dissemblers besides Women. 



( USBAND, (quoth shee), I would we were in 

our nest; 
When the belly is full, the bones would be 

at rest. 

So soone uppon supper, (sayd he), no question, 
Sleepe maketh ill and unholsome digestion. 
By that diet a great disease once I gat ; 
And burnt child fire dredth ; 14 I will beware of that. 
What a post of phisicke, (sayd shee), yee a post. 
And from post to piller^ wife, I have been tost 

14 Burnt child fire dredth. 

Timon. Why urge yee me ? my hart doth boyle with heate, 
And will not stoope to any of your lures : 
A burnt childe dreads the ffyre. Timon, circa 1590. 

So that child withdraweth is hond, 
From the fur ant the brond, 

That hath byfore bue brend. 
" Brend child fur dredth," 

Quoth Hendyng. 

Proverbs of Hendyng, MS. circa 1320. 

15 From post to filler. 

Meletya. Sister, is not your waighting- wench rich ? 

Celia. Why, sister, why ? 

Meletya. Because she can flatter, Pree-thee call her not. She 


By that surfet. And I feele a little fyt 

Even now, by former attempting of it. 

Whereby, except I shall seeme to leave my wit 

Before it leave me, I must now leave it. 

I thanke God, (quoth shee), I never yet felt paine 

To goe to bed timely, but rising againe, 

Too soone in the morning, hath mee displeased. 

And I, (quoth he), have been more diseased 

By earely liyng downe, then by early rising. 

But thus differ folke lo, in exercysing ; 

That one may not, an other may. 

Use maketh maistry ; and men many times say, 

That one loveth not, an other doth ; which hath sped, 

A II meates to be eaten and all maides to be wed. 

Haste ye to bed now, and rise ye as readie, 

While I rise earely and come to bed late. 

Long lying warme in bed is holesome, (quoth shee). 

While the leg warmeth, the boote harmeth,^ (quoth he). 
Well, (quoth shee), he that doth as most men do, 

Shalbe least wondred on, and take any two, 

has twenty-four houres to maddam yet, Come you, you prate, 
y faith, lie tosse you from post to piller ! MARSTON'S What you 
Will, 1607. 

16 While the leg warmeth, the boote harmeth. 

Whan the scho harmt the fot war . . . 

MS. Harleian, circa 1490. 


That be man and wife in all this whole towne, 
And most part together they rise and lie downe. 
When birds shall roost, (quoth he), at viii, ix, or ten, 
Who shall appoynt their houre, the cock or the hen ? 
The hen, (quoth shee) ; the cocke, (quoth he) ; just, 

(quoth she), 

As Jermans lips. 11 It shall prove more just (quoth he). 
Then prove I, (quoth shee), the more foole far away ; 
But there is no foole to the old foole ', 18 folke say. 
Ye are wise inough, (quoth he), if ye keepe ye warme. 
To be kept warme, and for none other harme, 
Nor for much more good, I tooke you to wed. 
I tooke not you, (quoth he), night and day to bed. 
Her carraine carkas, (sayd hee), is so cold, 
Because shee is aged, and somewhat too old, 

17 Just . . . as Jennans lips. 

As just as German's lips, which came not together by nine 
mile. LATIMER ; S Remaines* 

Agree like Dogge and Catte, and meete as just as Germans 
lippes. GOSSON'S Schole of Abuse. 

18 No foole to the old foole. 

Comedie upon comedie he shall have ; a morall, a historic, a 
tragedie, or what he will. One shal be called the Doctor's 
dumpe . . . and last a pleasant Enter lude of No Foole to the 
Olde Foole, with a jigge at the latter end in English hexameters 
of Neighbour Gabriell! ! and his wooing of Kate Cotton. 
N ASH'S Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1 596. 


That shee kilth mee. I doe but roste a stone?* 

In warming her. And shall not I save one, 

As shee would save an other ? yes by seint Johne. 

A syr, (quoth shee), mary this geare is alone. 

Who that worst may shall holde the candell ; I see ; 

I must warme bed for him should warme it for mee. 

This medicine thus ministred is sharpe and cold ; 

But all things that is sharpe is short, folke have told. 

This trade is now b[e]gun, but if it holde on, 

Then farewell my good dayes, they will be soone gon. 

Gospell in thy mouth, (quoth hee), this strife to breake ! 

How be it, all is not Gospell that thou doest speake. 

But what neede we lumpe out love at ones lashing, 

As wee should now shake handes ? what ! soft for 


Thefayre lasteth all the year e. We be new knit, 
And so late met, that I feare wee part not yit; 
Quoth the baker to the pilory. Which thing, 
From distemperate fonding, temperance may bring. 
And this reason to aide and make it more strong, 

19 Roste a stone. 

They may garlicke pill 
Gary sackes to the mil 
Or pescoddes they may shil 
Or els go roste a stone. 

SKELTON'S Why come ye not to Court? 1520.' 



Old wise folke say ; love me litle, love me long 

I say little, (sayd shee), but I thinke more ; 

Thought is free ^ Ye leane, (quoth he), to the wrong shore. 
(Brauling booted not, he was not that night bent 
i To play the bridegroome. Alone to bed shee went, 

This was their beginning of jar. How be it, 

For a beginning, this was a feate fit, 

And but a fleabiting to that did ensew. 

The worst is behinde. We come not where it grewe. 

How say you, (sayd he to me), by my wife ? 

The divell hath cast a bone, (sayd I), to set strife 

Betweene you, but it were a folly for me, 

To put my hand betweene the barke and the tree, 

Or to put my finger too far in the fire, 

Betweene you, and lay my credite in the mire. 

20 Love me litle, love me long. 

Bellamira. Come, gentle Ithamore, lie in my lap. 
Ithamore. Love me little, love me long ; let music rumble, 
Whilst I in thy incony lap do tumble. 

MARLOWE'S Jew of Malta, iv. 

21 Thought is free. 

Since thought is free, thinke what thou will, 

O troubled hart to ease thy paine ! 
Thought unrevealed can do no evill, 

Bot wordes past out, cummes not againe. 
Be cairefull aye for to invent 
The waye to gett thy owen intent. 

Poem by James /. MS. Add. 24,195. 


To meddle litle for mee it is best ; 

For of litle medling commeth great rest?* 

Yes, yee may meddle, (quoth hee), to make hir wise, 

Without taking harme, in giving your advice. 

She knoweth mee not yet, but if shee ware to wilde, 

I shall make hir know, an old knave is no childe. 

Slugging in bed with her is worse than watching. 

I promise you, an olde sacke asketh much patching. 

Well, (quoth I), to morowe I will to my beades, 

To pray, that as ye both will so ake your heades, 

And in meane time my aking head to cease, 

I will couch a hogs head. Quoth he, when yee 


Wee parted, and this, within a day or twayne, 
Was rakte up in th' ashes and covered agayne. 

22 Of litle medling commeth great rest. 

Payne the not eche croked to redresse 
In truste of her that turneth as a ball : 
Crete reste stande in lytell besynesse, 
Beware also to sporne against a wall. 

Proverbes of Lydgate. 



; HESE two dayes past, hee sayd to mee, when 

ye will, 
Come chat at home, all is well ; Jacke shall 

have Gill 

Who had the worse end of the staff e, (quoth I), now ? 
Shall the mayster weare a breeche^ or none, say you ? 
I trust the sowe will no more so deepe wroote ; 
But if shee doe, (quoth he), you must set in foote : 
And whom yee see out of the way, or shoote wide, 
Over shoote not your selfe any side to hide. 
But shoote out some wordes, if she be too hot. 
Shee may say, (quoth I), a fooles bolt is soone shot" 

Weare a breeche. 

All women be suche, 

Thoughe the man here the breeche, 

They wyll be ever checkemate. 

The Boke of May d Emlyn,. 1515. 
A fooles bolt is soone shot. 

Sot is sot, and that is sene ; 
For he wel speke wordes grene, 

Er ther hue buen rype. 
" Sottes bolt is sone shote," 

Quoth Hendyng. 

Proverbs of Hendyng^ MS. circa 1320. 


Yee will mee to a thankelesse office heere, 

And a busy officer I may appeere ; 

And Jacke out of office 3 she may bid me walke, 

And thinke me as wise as Waltams calfe? to talke, 

Or chat of her charge, having therein nought to do. 

How be it, if I see neede, as my part comth too, 

Gladly betweene you I will doe my best. 

I bid you to dinner, (quoth hee), as no guest, 

And bring your poore neighbors on your other side. I 

I did so. And streight as th' old Wife us espide, 

3 Jacke out of office. 

For liberalitie is tourned Jacke out of office, and others ap- 
pointed to have [the custodie. RICH'S Farewell to Militarie 
Profession, 1581. 

4 As wise as Waltams calfe. 

For Waltham's calves to Tiburne needes must go 
To sucke a bull and meete a butchers axe. 

The Braineles blessing of the Bull, 1571. 

In SKELTON'S Colin Clout, 1520, an unsanctimonious divine 
is thus pourtrayed : 

As wyse as Waltom's calfe, 
Must preche, a Goddes halfe, 
In the pulpy t solempnely ; 
More mete in the pyllory, 
For, by saynt Hyllary, 
He can nothyng smatter 
Of logyke nor scole matter. 

Ray gives, " As wise as Walthams calf, that ran nine miles to 
suck a bull." 


Shee bad us welcome and merrily toward me ; 

Greene rushes for this stranger, 5 strew here, (quoth shee), 

With this apart she puld me by the sleeve, 

Saying in fewe words, my mind to you to meeve ; 

So it is, that all our great fray the last night, 

Is forgiven and forgotten betweene us quight. 

And all fraies by this I trust have taken end ; 

For I fully hope my husband will amend. 

Well amended, (thought I), when yee both relent, 

Not to your owne, but ech to others mendment. 

Now if hope faile, (quoth she), and chaunce bring about 

Any such breach, whereby wee fall againe out, 

I pray you, tel him he is perverse now and than, 

And winke on me. Also hardly, if yee can 

Take me in any trip. Quoth I, I am loth 

To meddle commonly. For as this tale goth ; 

Who medleth in all thing, may shoe the gosling^ 

5 Greene rushes for this stranger. 

It was usual, before the introduction of carpets, to strew rushes 
on the floors of dwelling-houses ; and on the entrance of a visitor, 
hospitality required that they should be renewed. 

Where is this stranger ? Rushes, ladies, rushes : 
Rushes as green as summer for this stranger. 

BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER, Valentinian, ii. 4. 

6 Who medleth in all thing, may shoe the gosling. 

To shoe the goose (gosling here for the sake of rhyme) means 
simply to perform a work of supererogation. An inscription on 


Well, (quoth shee), your medling herein may be 
The winde calme betweene us, when it els might rage. 
I will with good will, (quoth I), ill windes to swage, 
Spend some winde at need, though I waste wind in 


To table we sat, where fine fare did remaine. 
Merry we were as cup and can could holde, 
Each one with each other homely and bolde. 
And she for her part, made us cheere heaven hie. 
The first part of dinner merry as a pie? 
But a scald head is soone broken ; and so they, 
As ye shall straight heare, fell at a new frey. 

one of the stalls of Whalley Church of the date 1434 goes far to 
show the antiquity of the proverb : 

Whoso melles of wat men dos, 
Let hym cum hier and shoo the ghos. 
And in Colin Clout, 1510 : 

What hath lay men to do 
The gray goose for to sho ! 

In connection with this proverb may be mentioned another 
much on the same model, occurring in the Hundred Mery Talys, 
circa 1525 : 

It is as great pyte to se a woman wepe as a gose to go barefote, 

and reappearing in a new dress in Sir Walter Scott's novel, " Rob 

Roy," where it is thus put into the mouth of Bailie Nicol Jarvie : 

It's nae mair ferlie to see a woman greet than to see a goose 

gang barefit. 

7 Merry as a pie. 

Eyre. By the Lord of Ludgate, my Liege, 111 be as merrie as 
a Pie. DECKER'S Shomakers Holiday, 1600. 



, USBAND, (quoth she), ye studie, be merrie 


And even as ye thinke now, so come to yow. 
Nay not so, (quoth he), for my thought to tell right, 
I thinke how you lay groning, wife, all last night. 
Husband, a groning horse and a groning ivife 
Never faile their master, (quoth she), for my life. 
No wife, a woman hath nine lives like a cat. 
Well, my lambe, (quoth she), ye may pick out of that, 
As soone goth the yong lambe skin to the market 
As th old y ewes? God forbid, wife, ye shall first jet. 
I will not jet yet, (quoth she), put no doubting ; 
// is a bad sack that will abide no clouting. 
And as we oft see, the looth stake standeth long, 
So it is an ill stake, I have heard among, 
That cannot stand one year e in a hedge. 
I drinke, (quoth she). Quoth he, I will not pledge. 
What neede all this, a man may love his house well, 

8 As soone goth the yong lambe skin, Q^c. 

It is a common saying there do come as many skins of calves 
to the market as there do of bulls or kine. BARCLAY'S Ship of 


Tfwug/i he ride not on the ridge ; I have heard tell. 
What, I weene, (quoth she), proferd service stinketh? 
But somewhat it is, I see, when the cat winketh, 
And both her eyen out, but further strife to shunne, 
Let the cat winke, and let the mouse runne. 
This past, and he cheered us all, but most cheere 
On his part, to this fayre yong wife did appeare. 
And as he to her cast oft a loving eye, 
So cast her husband like eye to his plate by. 
Wherewith in a great musing he was brought. 
Friend, (quoth the good man), apeny for your thought ? 10 
For my thought, (quoth he), that is a goodly dish : 
But of troth I thought ; better to have then wish. 
What, a goodly yong wife, as you have, (quoth he) ? 
Nay, (quoth he), gooldly gilt goblets, as here be. 
Bir Ladie friends, (quoth I), this maketh a show, 
To shew you more unnaturall then the crow ; 

9 Proferd service stinketh. 

In Vulgaria Slambrigi, 1510. 

10 A. petty for your thought. 

Me thinke, Euphues, chaunging so your colour upon the so- 
deine, you wil soone chaunge your coppie : is your minde on your 
meate ? a penny for your thought. 

Mistres (quoth he) if you would by al my thoughts at that 
price, I should never be wearye of thinking, but seeing it is too 
deare, reade it and take it for nothing. Euphues. The Anatomy 
of Wit, 1579- 


The crow thinkth her owne birds fairest in the wood. n 
But by your words, (except I wrong understood), 
Each others birds or jewels, you doe wey 
Above your owne. True, (quoth the old wife), ye sey. 
But my neighbours desire rightly to measure, 
Comth of neede, and not of corrupted pleasure ; 
And my husbands more of pleasure, than of neede. 
Old fish and yong flesh, (quoth he), doth men best feede. 
And some say ; change of pasture makth fat calves 
As for that reason, (quoth she), runneth to halves, 
As well for the cow calfe as for the bull. 
And though your pasture looke barrenly and dull, 
Yet looke not on the meate, but looke on the man. 
And who so looketh on you, shall shortly skan. 

11 The crow thinkth her owne birds fairest in the wood. 

It must needs be good ground that brings forth such good corne ; 
When I look on him, methinks him to be evill favoured, 
Yet the crowe thinkes her black birds of all other the fairest. 

LUPTON'S All for Money, 1578. 

12 Change of pasture makthfat calves. 

Honeysuckle. Now I'm as limber as an ancient that has 
flourished in the rain, and as active as a Norfolk tumbler. 

Boniface. You may see what change of pasture is able to do. 

Honeysuckle. It makes fat calves in Romney Marsh, and lean 
knaves in London, therefore Boniface, keep your ground. God's 
my pity, my forehead has more crumples than the back part of 
a counsellor's gown, when another rides upon his necke at the 
bar. WEBSTER'S Westward Hoe. 


Ye may write to your friends that ye are in health ; 

But all thing may be sufTred saving wealth. 

An old said saw ; itch and ease can no man please. 

Plentie is no daintie ; ye see not your owne ease. 

I see, you cannot see the wood for freest 

Your lips hang in your light ; but this poore man sees, 

Both how blindly you stand in your owne light, 

And that you rose on your right side here right, 

And might have gone further and have fared worse. 

I wot well I might, (quoth he), for the purse ; 

But ye be a babie of BelzabuUs bowre. 

Content ye, (quoth she), take the sweet with the sowre ; 

Fancy may boult bran, and make yee take itfloure. 

It will not be, (quoth he), should I die this houre, 

While this fayre floure flourisheth thus in mine eie. 

Yes, it might, (quoth shee), and here this reason whye. 

Snow is white, \ A , 

\ And every man lets it lye. 

And lieth in the dike. J 

13 You cannot see the wood for trees. 

Continued proverbial, being found in an anti -popish tract of the 
reign of Charles II. 

From him who sees no wood for trees 
And yet is busie as the bees 
From him that's settled on his lees 
And speaketh not without his fees, 
Libera nos. 

A Letany for S. triers, 1682. 


Pepper is blacke ") 

\ And every man doth it bie. 
And hath a good smack. J 

Milke, (quoth he), is white, "i But all men know it good 

And lieth not in the dike. 3 meate. 

Inke is all blacke, "j No man will it drinke nor 

And hath an ill smacke. J eate. 

Thy ryme, (quoth hee), is much elder then mine, 

But mine being newer is truer then thine. 

Thou liken est now for a vaine advauntage, 

White snow to faire youth, blacke pepper to foule age 

Which are placed out of place heere by the rood, 

Blacke inke is as ill meate, as blacke pepper is good. 

And white milke is good meat, as white snow is ill. 

But a milke snow white smooth yong skin, who chaunge 


For a pepper inke rough olde withred face ? 
Though chaunge bee no robbry for the chaunged case, 
Yet shall that change rob the chaunger of his wit. 
For who this case searcheth, shall soone see in it, 
That as well agreeth the comparison in these, 
As a lyke to compare in tast, chalke and cheesed 

14 To compare .... chalke and cheese. 

Lo ! how they feignen chalk for cheese. 

GOWER'S Confessio Amantis. 

Though I have no learning, yet I know chese from chalke. 
John Bon and Mast Person, 1548. 


Or a lyke in colour to deeme inke and chalke. 
Walke, drab, walke ! Nay, (quoth she), walke, knave, 

zvalke ; 

Saith that terme. How be it sir, I say not so. 
And lest wee lay a straw here, and even there, ho, 
Or else this geare will breede a pad in the straw. 
If yee hale this way, I will an other way draw. 
Here is God in tti ambry y (quoth I). Quoth hee, nay, 
Here is the devill in ttt orologe; 15 yee may say. 
Since this, (quoth I), rather bringeth bale then boote, 
Wrap it in the cloth, and tread it under foote. 
Ye harpe on the string that geveth no melody. 
Your tongs run before your wittes, by saint Antony. 
Marke yee, how she hitteth mee on the thumbes, (quoth 


And yee taunt mee tit over thumb, (quoth shee). 
Since tit for tat^ (quoth I), on even hand is set, 



Do not these thynges differ as muche as chalcke and chese. 
SHACKLOCK'S Hatchet of Heresies, 1565. 

To French and Scots so fayr a taell I tolde, 
That they beleeved whyt chalk and chees was oen. 

CHURCHYARD'S Chippes, 1573. 

15 The devill in th* orologe. 

In HARMAN'S Vulgaria, 1530 : 

some for a tryfull pley the devyll in the orloge. 

16 Tit for tat, is simply a corruption of tant po^tr tant. 


Set the hares head agaynst the goose jeb let. 11 
She is, (quoth he), bent to force you perforce, 
To know that the grey mare is the better horsed 
Shee chopth logyke, to put me to my clargie : 
Shee hath one poynt of a good hauke ; shee is hardy. 

17 Set the hares head agaynst the goose jeblet. 

Ide set mine old debts against my new driblets, 
And the hare's foot against the goose giblets. 

DECKER'S Shomakers Holiday. 

18 The grey mare is the better horse. 

Lord Macaulay observes in his history, (i. iii.) : 

" Our native horses, though serviceable, were held in small 
esteem, and fetched low prices. They were valued, one with 
another, by the ablest of those who computed the national wealth, 
at fifty shillings each. Foreign breeds were greatly preferred." 

And adds in a note : 

" The common proverb, that the grey mare is the better horse, 
originated, I suspect, in the preference generally given to the grey 
mares of Flanders over the finest coach horses of England." 

Macaulay is writing of the latter half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. That the proverb had always been associated with the 
idea of female superiority appears both from Heywood's text, 
from the Hudibras, and in innumerable later instances. 

What ! shall the graye mayre be the better horse, 
And the wanton sty 11 at home ? 

Pryde and Abuse of Women Now a Dayes, circa 1550. 

When the grey mare's the better horse, 
When o'er the breeches greedy women 
Fight, to extend their vast dominion. 



But wife, the first poynt of hanking is hold fast ;^ 
And hold ye fast I red you, lest yee bee cast 
In your own turne. Nay shee will turne the 
And rather, (quoth I), take as faith in the sheafe 
At your handes, and let fall her hold, than be too bolde. 
Nay, I will spit in my handes, and take better hold. 
Hee, (quoth shee), that will be angry zvithout cause 
Must be at one, without amendes y by sage sawes. 
Tread a woorme on the tayle, and it must turne agayne.^ 
He taketh pepper in thenose^ that I complayne 
Upon his faultes, myselfe being faultlesse, 
But that shall not stoppe my mouth yee may well gesse. 
Well, (quoth I), too much of one thing is not good ; 

19 Turne the leafe. 

He turneth over a new leafe and seekes by sinister meanes to 
effect that which otherwyse he could not by any good meanes 
bring to passe. A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of 
Servingmen, 1598. 

20 Tread a woorme, &*c. 

The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on ; 
And doves will peck in safe-guard of their brood. 

3 Henry VI. ii. 2. 

21 He taketh pepper in the nose. 

A common expression applied to any one who was quick at 
taking offence. 

For every man takes pepper i' the nose 
For the wagginge of a strawe, God knowse, 
With every waverynge wynd that blowese. 

ELDERTON'S Lenton Stuffe, 1570. 


Leave off this ! Be it, (quoth he), fall wee to our food. 
But sufferance is no qnittans in this daiment. 
No, (quoth she), nor misreckning is no payment. 
But even reckoning maketh longfrendes ; my frend. 
For alway owne is owne, at the recknings end. 
This reckning once reckned, and dinner once doone, 
We three from them twaine, departed very soone. . 


\ HIS old woman, the next day after this night, 
Stale home to mee, secretly as shee might, 
To talke with mee. In secret counsell, (she 

Of things which in no wise might be bewrayd. 
We twayne are one to many, (quoth I), for men say, 
Three may keepe counsayle, if two be away. 

22 Three may keepe counsayle, &>c. 

Three may keep a counsel if twain be away. 

CHAUCER, Ten Commandments of Love. 

Aaron. But, say again, how many saw the child ? 

Nurse. Cornelia the midwife, and myself : 
And no one else, but the deliver'd empress. 

Aaron. The empress, the midwife, and yourself: 
Two may k eep counsel, when the third } s away. 

Titus Andronicus, iv. 2. 


But all that yee speake, unmeet agayne to tell, 
I will say nought but mum, and miim is counsell. 
Well then, (quoth she), herein avoyding all feares, 
Avoyde your children ; small pitchers have wyde eares. 1 
Which done, (shee sayd), I have a husband yee know, 
Whom I made of nought, as thing selfe doth show. 
And for these two causes onely him I tooke, 
First, that for any love he should lovingly looke, 
In all kind of cause that love ingender might, 
To love and cherish me by day and by night. 
Secondly, the full substance which I to him brought, 
He rather should augment, then bring to nought. 
But now my good shall both be spent, yee shall see, 
And in spending it sole instrument shall bee 
Of my destruction, by spending it on such 
As shall make him destroy me : I feare this much, 
e maketh havocke, and setteth cocke on the hoope. 
tie is so lavish, the stocke beginnes to droope. 
And as for gaine is dead and layd in tumbe, 
When he would get ought ech finger is a thumbe. 
Ech of his joyntes against other justles, 

1 Small pitchers have vuyde eares. 

Q. Elizabeth. A parlous boy : go to, you are too shrewd. 
Archbishop. Good madam, be not angry with the child. 
Q. Elizabeth. Pitchers have ears. 

Richard III. ii. 4. 


As handsomly as a beare picketh muscles. 

Flattring knaves and flering queanes being the marke, 

Hang on his sleeve ; many hands make light war he? 

He hath his haukes in the mew ; but make ye sure, 

With empty hands men may no haukes allure. 

There is a nest of chickens, which he doth brood, 

That will sure make his hay r e grow e through his hood? 

They can currifavell, and make fayre weather, 

While they cut large thongs of other mens leather? 

He maketh his marts with marchaunts likely 

To bring a shilling to nine pence quickly. 

If he holds on a while as he beginnes, 

We shall see him prove a marchant of eele skinnes ; 

2 Many hands make light warke. 

The werke is the soner done that hathe many handes : 
Many handys make light werke : my leve child. 

How the Goode Wif Thaught hir Daughter. 

3 Make fits hayre growe through his hood. 

It wyll make hys ,-haere growe through his hood. The Dis- 
obedient Child, by THOMAS INGELAND, circa 1550. 

The proverb was still in use a century afterwards, being 
alluded to in Middleton's comedy, Any Thing for a Quiet Life, 
where Mistress Water- Camlet thus exclaims against a supposed 
rival : 

French hood, French hood, I will make your hair grow 

4 Cut large thongs of other mens leather. 

D'autrui cuir font large curoie. 
Cest li Mariages des Filles au Dyable, MS. circa 1300. 


A marchant without either money or ware. 

But all bee bugs woordes, that I speake to spare. 

Better spare at brim than at bottom, say I. 

Ever spare y and ever bare, (saith he) ; saith th' old ballet. 

What sendeth hee (say I), a staffe and a wallet. 

Than up goeth his staffe to send mee aloofe ; 

He is at three woordes up in the house roofe. 

And herein to grow, (quoth shee), to conclusion, 

I pray your ayd, to avoyde this confusion. 

M \ 
And for counsayle herein, I thought to have gon 

b that cunning man, our curate sir John. 
3ut this kept mee backe : I have heard now and then, 
"he greatest Clerkes be not the wisest men? 
thinke, (quoth I), who ever that terme began, 
as neither great Clerke nor the greatest wise man. 
n your running from him to me, yee runne 
Out of Gods blessing into the ivarme Sunne? 

5 The greatest Clerkes be not the wisest men. 

Now I here wel, it is treue that I long syth have redde and 
erde, that the best clerkes ben not the wysest men. History e 
if Reynard the Foxe, 1 48 1 . 

The greatest clerks ben not the wisest men 
As whilom to the wolf this spake the mare. 

CHAUCER, Miller's Tale. 

6 Out of Gods blessing into the war me Sunne. 

Therefore if thou wilt follow my advice, and prosecute thine 


Where the blinde leadeth the blinde, both fall in the dyke ; 
And blynde bee wee both, if wee thinke us his lyke. 
Folkes shew much folly, when thinges should be sped 
To run to the foote, that may goe to the head? 
Since he best can and most ought to doo it, 
I feare not but hee will, if 4 yee will woo it. 
' There is but one let, (quoth she), more than I speake on 
Folke say of old ; the shooe will hold with the sole. 
Shall I trust him then ? nay, in trust is treason. 
But I trust you, and come to you this season, 
To heare me, and tell me what way yee think best 
To hem in my husband, and set me at rest. 
If yee mynd, (quoth I), a conquest to make 

own determination, thou shalt come out of a warme Sunne int< 
Gods blessing. LYLY'S Euphues, 1579. 

, Thou forsakest God's blessing to sit in warme Sunne. Ibid. 

Kent. Good king that must approve the common saw, 
Thou out of heaven's benediction comest 
To the warm sun. King Lear, ii. 2. 

1 Where Iht blinde leadeth the blinde^ &C. 

She hath hem in such wise daunted, 
That they were, as who saith, enchaunted ; 
And as the blinde an other ledeth, 
And till they falle nothing dredeth. 

GOWER'S Confessio A mantis 
8 To run to thefoote, &c. 

Thou that stondys so sure on sete, 
Ware lest thy hede falle to thy fete. 

The Boke of Curtasye, MS. circa 1350 


Over your husband, no man may undertake 

To bring you to ease or the matter amend, 

Except yee bring him to weare a cocks combe at end. 

For take that your husband were as yee take him, 

As I take him not, as your tale would make him : 

Yet were contention lyke to do nought in this, 

But kepe him nought, and make him worse than he is. 

But in this complaynt for counsaill quicke and cleare, 

A fewe proverbes for principles, let us heare. 

Who that may not as they would, will as they may ; 

And this to this ; they that are bound must obay. 

Folly is to spume agaynst a prick ; 

To strive against the streame, to winch or kicke 

Against the hard wall. By this yee may see, 

Being bound to obedience, as yee bee, 

And also overmatcht, suffraunce is your daunce. 

Hee may overmatch me, (quoth shee), perchaunce 

In strength of body, but my tongue is a limme, 

To match and to vexe every vayne of him. 

Tongue breaketh bone, it selfe having none? (quoth I). 

Tongue breaketh bone, &C. 

Thou Corny sshe, quod the Hauke, by thy wil, 

Say well, or holde thee styll, 

Thou hast harde of many a man, 

Tonge breaketh bone, and it selfe hath none. 

Par lament of Byrdes, circa 1550. 


If the winde stand in that dore y it standeth awry. 10 

The perill of prating out of tune by note, 

Telth us that a good bestill is worth a groate. 

In being your owne foe you spin a fay re threede ; 

Advise yee well, for here doth all lye and bleede. 

Flee th' attempting of extremities all. 

Folke say ; better sit still than ryse and fall ^ 

For little more or lesse no debate make, 

A t every dogs barke, seeme not to awake. 

And where the small with the great can not agree, 

The weaker goeth to the pot we all day see. 

" Tonge breketh bon, 
Ant nad hire selve non," 
Quoth Hendyng. 

Proverbs of Hendyng, MS. circa 1320. 

10 If the winde stand in that dore. 

Dalio. It is even so ? is the winde in that doore ? 

Supposes, by GEORGE GASCOIGNE, 1566. 

11 Better sit still than ryse andfalL 

Oh Cousin, I have heard my father say, that it is better to sit 
fast than to rise and fall, and a great wise man who knew the 
world to a hayre, would say, that the meane was sure : better be 
in the middle roome, then either in the Garret or the Sellor. 
Court and Country ', by NICHOLAS BRERETON, 1618. 

12 The weaker goeth to the pot. 

This vulgar and objectionable saying has at least a descent 
from antiquity to recommend it. Judging from the context in 
those passages of mediaeval literature where it occurs, it has 
been supposed to refer primarily to the barbarous practice of con- 
signing useless or refractory monks to a species of oubliette, 
where in many cases they suffered a speedy death, or at the 


So that alway the bigger eateth 
Yee can nought winne by any wayward meane. 
Where the hedge is lowest, men may soonest over^ 
Be silent. Let not your tong run at rover. 
Since by stryfe yee may lose, and can not winne, 
Suffer ! It is good sleeping in a whole skinne. 
If he chyde, keepe you bill under wing muet ; 
Chatting to chiding is not worth a chuet. 
We see many tymes, might overcomth right. 
Were not you as good then to say, the crow is whight. \ Q Yy 
And so rather let fay re woordes make fooles fay ne 

caprice of their superiors were permitted to linger on in life -long 

The most direct allusion to these practices is in Piers Plowman's 

Under a pot he shall be put 
In a pryve chambre 
That he shal lyven ne laste 
But lytel whyle after. 
13 The bigger eateth the beane. 

For I am wery of this renning about, 
And yet alway I stand in great doubt 
Least that the bigger wyll eate the Been. 

XII Mery Jests of the Wyddow Edyth, 1525. 
Where the hedge is lowest, &*c. 
Where hedge is lowe, there every man treads downe, 
And friendship failes, when Fortune list to frowne. 

GASCOIGNE'S Posies, 1575. 
15 Fayre woordes make fooles fay ne. 
In youthfull yeares, when first my yonge desires beganne 
To pricke me forth to serve in court, a selender, tall yonge manne : 


Then be plain without pleats, and plant your own pain. 

For were yee as play ne as Dunstable hie way, 

Yet should yee that way rather breake a love day, 

Than make one thus : though ye perfectly knew 

All that yee conjecture to be proved true. 

Yet better dissemble it, and shake it off, 

Then to braide him with it in earnest or in scoffe, 

If hee play falsehoode in felowship, play yee 

See me and see me not ; the worst part to flee. 

Why thinke yee mee so whyte liverd, (quoth shee), 

That I will be tong tyed ? Well, (quoth I), your part 

Is to suffer, (I say), for yee shall preeve, 

Tauntes appease not thinges, they rather agreeve. 

But for ill company or expense extreeme, 

I heare no man doubt, so far as yee deeme ; 

And there is no fire without some smoke, wee see. 

Well, well, make no fyre, raise no smoke, (sayd shee). 

What cloke for the rayne^ so ever yee bring mee, 

My fathers blessinge then I asked uppon my knee, 

Who, blessinge me wyth tremblinge hand, these woordes gan say 

to me : 

My sonne, God guide thy way, and shielde thee from mischaunce, 
And make thy just desartes in court, thy pore estate to advaunce : 
But when thou art become one of that courtlie trayne, 
Thinke on this proverbe olde, quod he, that faire woordes make 
fools faine. Paradyse of Day ntie Devises, 1578. 

16 Cloke for the rayne. 

Nicholas. ; Tis good to have a cloake for the raine ; a bad shift 


Myself e can tell best where my shooe doth wring mee. 11 
But as yee say ; where fyre is, smoke will appeere. 
And so hath it done, for I did lately heere, 
How fleck and his make use their secret haunting, 
By one byrd, that in myne eare was late chaunting. 
One swallow maketh not summer^ (sayd I), men say : 
I have, (quoth she), moe blocks in his way to lay, 
For farther increase of suspicion of ils. 
Besyde the jetting into the towne, to his Gils, 
With calets hee consumeth himselfe and the goods ; 
Sometyme in the fieldes, sometyme in the woods, 
Some heare and see him, whom he heareth and seeth 

But fieldes have eies and woods have eares^ yee wot. 

is better then none at all ; lie sit heere, as if I were as dead as 
a doore naile. Two Angry Women of Abingdon, 1599. 

17 My self e can tell best where my shooe doth wring mee. 

Je scay mieux ou le bas me blesse. 

Maistre Pierre Patelin. 

18 One swallow maketh not summer. 

One swallowe prouveth not that summer is neare. 

NORTHBROOKE'S Treatise against Daunting, 1577. 

19 Fieldes have eies and woods have eares. 

The were bettur be still ; 
Wode has erys, felde has si?t 
Were the forster here now right, 

Thy wordis shuld like the ille. 
King Edward and the Shepherd, MS. circa 1300. 


And also on my maydes he is ever tooting. 

Can yee judge a man, (quoth I), by this looking ? 

What, a cat may looke on a King, yee know. 

My cats leering looke, (quoth she), at first show, 

Shewth me, that my cat goeth a catter wawing ; 

And specially by his manner of drawing 

To Madge my fayre mayde ; for may he come ny her, 

Hee must needes basse her, as he comth by her. 

He loveth well sheeps flesh, that wets his bred in the 

If he leave it not, we have a crow to pull. 1 

20 He loveth well sheeps flesh, that wets his bred in the wull. 

The proverb must be taken to refer to a certain broth or jelly 
made from the sheep's head boiled with the wool. Such a receipt 
is mentioned in a rare poem attributed to Lydgate, where the 
virtues of a sheep are found enumerated : 

Of the shepe is caste awaye no thynge ; 
His home for nockes, to haftes go his bone, 
To londe grete prouffyte dooth his tyrtelynge ; 
His talowe serveth for playsters many one ; 
For harpe strynges his ropes serve echone. 
Of whoos hede boyled, with wull and all, 
Tere cometh a gely and an oyntement ryal. 

Treaty se of the Horse, the Shepe and the goes. 

1 We have a crow to pull. 

A belle. Dere brother, I will fayre 
On feld ther our bestes ar, 
To looke if they be holgh or fulle. 

Cayn. Na, na, abide, we have a craw to pulle. 

Mactacio Abel, in Towneley Mysteries, circa 1420. 


He loveth her better at the sole of the foote, ever hee loved mee at the hart roote. 
// is a fonle byrd that fyleth his owne nest? 
I would have him live as Gods law hath exprest, 
And leave lewd ticking. Hee that will none ill doo, 
Must do nothing that belongeth theretoo ; 
To ticke and laugh with me, hee hath lawfull leeve : 
To that I sayd nought, but taught in my sleeve. 
But when shee seemed to bee fixed in mynde, 
Rather to seeke for that shee was loth to finde, 
Than leave that seeking, by which she might find ease, 
I faynde this fancy to feele how it should please. 
Will yee do well, (quoth I) ? take paine to watch him : 

2 A foule byrd that fyleth his owne nest. 

pu art lofclich and unclene 
Bi >ine neste ich hit mene 
And ek bi Jnne fule brode 
}m fedest on heom a pel ful fode, 
pel >ostu j?at hi doj? J?ar inne 
Hi fulej? hit up to J?e chinne 
Heo sittej? j?ar so li beo bisne 
Dahet habba J?at ilke best 
J?at fulej? his o?e nest. 

Owl and the Nightingale, MS. circa 1250. 

Rede and lerne ye may, 
Howe olde proverbys say, 
That byrd ys nat honest, 
That fylyth hys owne nest. 

SKELTON, Poems against Games che^ 1520. 


And if yee chaunce in advoutry to catch him, 

Then have yee him on the hip? or on the hirdell, 

Then have yee his head fast under your girdell. 

Where your woordes now do but rub him on the gall, 

That deede without woordes shall drive him to the wall. 

And further than the wall he can not go : 

But must submit himselfe, and it hap so, 

That at ende of your watch yee giltlesse appeere, 

Then all grudge grown by jelousy, taketh end cleere. 

For of all folkes I may woorst watch him (sayd shee), 

Of all folkes himselfe most watcheth mee. 

I shall as soone try him or take him this way, 

As dryve a top over a tyled house, no way. 

I may keepe corners or hollow trees with th'owle, 

This seven yeares day and night to watch a bowle, 

Before I shall catch him with undoubted evill. 

Hee must have a long spoone, shall eat with the devill ; 4 

3 Have yee him on the hip. 

Which thing to do, 

If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash 
For his quick hunting, stand the putting on, 
111 havse our Michael Cassio on the hip. 

Othello, ii. 7. 

4 Hee must have a long spoone, &c. 

Courtezan. Your man and you are marvellous merry, sir. 
Will you go with me ? We'll mend our dinner here. 

Dromio. Master, if you do, expect spoonmeat or bespeak a long 


And the devil is no falser than is hee. 

I have heard tell, it had need to bee 

A wylie mouse that should breed in the cats eare. 5 

Shall I get within him than ? nay ware that geare. 

It is hard halting before a creeple^ y ee wot. 

A falser water drinker there liveth not. 

Whan he hunteth a Doe, that he can not avow, 

All dogs barke not at him, I warrant yow ; 

Namely not I, (I say), though as I sayd, 

Hee sometyme, though seldom, by some be bewrayed. 

Close hunting, (quoth I), the good hunter allowth ; 

Antipholus. Why, Dromio ? 

Dromio. Marry, he must have a long spoon, that must eat with 
the devil. Comedy of Errors, iv. 3. 

Therefore behoveth him a ful long spone, 
That shal ete with a fend : thus herd I say. 

CHAUCER, Squieres Tale. 

5 A wylie mouse, &r*c. 

A hardy mowse that is bold to breede 

In cattis eeris. Order of Poles, MS. circa 1450. 

It is a wyly mouse 

That can build his dwellinge house 

Within the cattes eare. 

SKELTON, 1520. 

6 It is hard halting before a creeple. 

I perceyve (quod she) it is evill to halte before a Creple. 
Ferdinando, perceyving now that his Mistryse waxed angry, 
thought good on hir behalfe thus to answere : and it is evill to hop 
before them that runneforthe Bell. Fable of Ferdinando Jeronimi 
and Leonora de Valases, by GEORGE GASCOIGNE, 1575. 


But bee your husband never so still of mouth, 
If yee can hunt, and will stand at receite, 
Your mayd examind, maketh him open streite. 
That were, (quoth shee), as of my truth to make preefe, 
To aske my fellow whether I be a theefe. 
They cleave together lyke burres, that way I shall 
Pyke out no more than out of the stone wall. 
Than like yee not to watch him for wife or maide ? 
No, (quoth shee). Nor I, (quoth he) ; what ever I saide 
And I mislike not only your watch in vaine, 
But also if yee tooke him what could yee gaine ? 
From suspicion to knowledge of yll, forsooth, 
Could make yee doo, but as the flounder dooth, 
' Leape out of the frying pan into the fyre ; 
And change -from il paine to worse, is worth small hire. 
Let time trie. Time trieth troth in every doubt ; 
And deeme the best til time hath tride the troth out. 
And reason saith, make not two sorowes of one ; 
But yee make ten sorowes where reason maketh none. 
For where reason, (as I sayd), wilth you to winke, 
(Although all were proved as ill as ye thinke), 
Contrarie to reason ye stampe and ye stare ; 
Ye fret and ye fume as mad as a march hare. 1 

7 As mad as a march hare. 

I saye, thou madde Marche hare. 
SKELTON'S Reply cation against certayne yong scolers, 1520. 


Without proofe to his reproofe present or past, 
But by such report, as most prove lyes at last. 
And here goth the hare away* for ye judge all, 
And judge the worst in all, ere proofe in ought fall. 
But blind men should judge no colours, by old sawes, 
And } vlke oft times are most blind in their owne cawse. 
The blinde eate many fly es? Howbeit the fancie 
Of your blindnes comth not of ignorancie. 
Ye could tell another herein the best way : 
But it is as folke doe, and not as folke say. 
For they say, saying and doing are two things 
To defend danger that double dealing brings. 
As ye can seeme wise in words, be wise in deede. 
That is, (quoth he), sooner sayd then done, I dreede. 
But me seemth your counsaile wayth in the whole, 
To make me put my finger in a hole. 
And so by suffrance to be so lither, 
In my house to lay fire and tow togitJier. 

8 Here goth the hare away. 
Man. By my fayth a lytell season 

I folowd the counsell and dyet of reason. 
Gets. There went the hare away. 

MED WALL'S Interlude of Nature, 1510. 

9 The blinde eate many flyes. 

the blinde eateth many a flye : 
So doth the husband often, iwis, 
Father the childe that is not his. 

Schole-house of Women, 1541. 


And if they fire me, some of them shall winne 

More tow on their distaves than they can well spinne. 

And the best of them shall have both their hands full : 

Bolster or pillow for me, be whose wul. 

I will not beare the divels sacke by saint Audrie, 

For conceiling suspition of their baudrie. 

I feare false measures, or else I were a childe : 

For they that thinke none ill, are soonest beguilde. 

For thus though much water goeth by the mill, 

That the miller knoweth not 0/", 11 yet I will 

Cast what may scape, and as though I finde it, 

With the clacke of my mill to fine meale grinde it. 

And sure ere I take any rest in effect, 

I must banish my maides such as I suspect. 

10 More tow on their distaves, &*c. 

In JOHN HEYWOOD'S Merry Playe betweene the Pardoner and 
the Frere, the Curate and neybour Pratte, 1533, the parson and 
friar having come to blows, the parson thus acknowledges his 
defeat : 

I have more tow on my dystaffe than I can well spyn. 

11 Much water goeth by the mill, &c. 

Demetrius. Why mak'st thou it so strange ? 
She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd. 
She is a woman, therefore may be won. 
She is Lavinia, therefore must be lov'd. 
What, man ; more water glideth by the mill, 
Than wots the miller of, and easy it is 
Of a cut loaf to steal a shive. 

Titus Andronicus, ii. 7. 


Better it be done, than zvisk it had been done. 
As good undone, (quoth I), as doe it too soone. 
Well, (quoth she), till soone fare ye well, and this 
Keepe ye as secret as ye thinke meete is. 
Out at doores went she herewith : and hereupon 
In at doores came he forthwith as she was gon. 
And without any temprate protestation, 
Thus he began in way of exclamation. 


what choice may compare to the divels 


Like his that hath chosen a divell to his wife ; 
Namely such an old witch, such a mackabroine, 
As evermore like a hogge hangeth the groine 
On her husband, except he be her slave, 
And follow all fancies that she would have. 
Tis said, there is no good accord, 
Where every man would be a Lord. 
Wherefore my wife will be no Lord, but Ladie, 
To make me that should be her Lord, a babie. 
Before I was wedded, and since, I made reckning, 
To make my wife bow at every beckning. 



Bachelers boast, how they will teach their wives good ; 

But many a man speaketh of Robin Hood, 

That never shot in his bow. When all is sought, 

Bachelers wives, and maides children be well tought 

And this with this I also begin to gather, 

Every man can rule a shrew, save he that hath tier. 

At my will I wend she should have wrought like waxe, 

But I finde and feele, shee hath found such knaxe 

In her bouget, and such toyes in her hed, 

That to daunce after her pipe I am nie led. 

It is said of old, an old dog biteth sore ; 13 

But by God, th' old bitch biteth sorer and more. 

And not with teeth, (she hath none), but with her tung. 

If all tales be true, (quoth I), though she be stung, 

And thereby sting you, she is not much to blame, 

For what ever you say, thus goeth the fame. 

When folkes first saw your substance layd in your lap, 

Without your paine, with your wife brought by good 


Oft in remembrance of haps happie devise, 
They would say, better be happie then wise. 

12 Bachelers wives, &*c. 

The maid's child is ever best taught. LATIMER'S $th Sermon. 

13 An old dog biteth sore. 

Olde dogges bite sore. 
CHURCHYARD' s Handeful of Gladsome Verses, 1592. 


Not minding thereby than to deprave your wit, 

For they had good hope to see good proofe of it. 

But since their good opinion therein so cooles 

That they say as oft, God sendeth fortune to fooles. 

In that as fortune without your wit gave it, 

So can your wit not keepe it when ye have it. 

Saith one, this geare was gotten on a holy day. 

Saith another, who may hold that will away. 

This game from beginning shewth what end is ment ; 

Soone gotten soone spent \ ill gotten ill spent. 

Ye are calde not only too great a spender, 

Too franke a giver and as free a lender : 

But also ye spend, give and lend, among such, 

Whose lightnes minisheth your honestie much, 

As your money, and much they disalow, 

That ye brake all from her, that brought all to yow, 

And spend it out at doores in spite of her, 

Because ye would kill her to be quite of her. 

For all kindnes, of her part, that may rise, 

Ye shew all th' unkindnes ye can devise. 

And where reason and custome, (they say), affoords, 

Alway to let the losers have their words y 

Ye make her a coockqueane, and consume her good, 

And she must sit like a beane in a Munks hood. 

She must obey those lambes, or els a lambs skin 

Ye will provide for her, to lap her in. 


This biteth the mare by the thumbe, as they say, 

For were ye, touching condition, (say they), 

The castell of honestie in all things els, 

Yet should this one thing, as their whole tale tels, 

Defoyle and deface that castell to a cottage. 

With many conditions good, one that is ill, 

Defaceth the flowre of all and doth all spill. 

Now, (quoth I), if you thinke they truly clatter, 

Let your amendment amend the matter. 

Halfe warnd halfe armd. This warning for this I show, 

He that hath an ill name is half hangd, ye know. 


JELL sayd (sayd he) mary sir here is a tale ; 
For honestie, meete to set the divell on sale. 
But now am I forst a beadrole t'unfolde, 
To tell somewhat more to the tale I erst tolde. 
Grow this, as most part doth, I durst holde my life, 
Of the jelousie of dame Julok, my wife, 
Then shall ye wonder when trueth doth define, 
How she can, and doth here both bite and whine. 
Franzie, heresie, and jelousie are three, 
That men say hardly or never cured bee. 


And although jelousie need not or boot not, 

What helpeth that counsaile, if reason roote not ? 

And in mad jelousie she is so farre gon, 

She thinkth I run over all that I looke on. 

Take good heede of that, (quoth I), for at a word, 

The proverbe saith he that striketh with the sword 

Shall be stricken with the scabberd.^ Tush, (quoth he) ; 

The divell with the scabberd will not strike me. 

But my dame taking suspition for full preefe, 

Reporteth it for a troth to the most mischeefe, 

In words gold and hole, as men by wit could wish, 

She will as fast as a dog will lick a dish. 

She is of troth as false as God is trew. 

And if she chance to see me at a vew 

Kisse any of my maides alone, but in sport, 

That takth she in earnest, after Bedlam sort^ 

The cow is wood. Her tongue runth on pattens. 

If it be morne, we have a payre of mattens ; 

14 He that striketh with the sword, &*c. 

Nich. Blessed be the peace-makers ; they that strike with the 
sword shall be beaten with the scabberd. 

Phil. Well said, proverbs, nere another to that purpose ? 

Nich. Yes, I could have said to you, syr Take heede is a good 
reede. Two Angry Women of Abington, 1599. 

16 After Bedlam sort. 

Here is an allusion to the Priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem, 
which was converted into an asylum in 1546, the year of the 
publication of Heywood's Dialogue. 


If it even, evensong, not Latine nor Greeke, 

But English and like that as in Easter weeke. 

She beginneth first with a Cry a leysone, 

To which she ringth a peale, alarum : such an one, 

As folk ring bees with basons ; the world ninth on 


But except her mayd shew a fayre payre of heeles,^ 
She haleth her by the boy rope till her braines ake. 
And bring I home a good dish, good cheere to make, 
What is this (saith she) ? Good meate, (say I), for yow. 
God have mercie horse?* a pig of mine owne sow. 
Thus when I see by kindnes ease reneweth not, 

16 Shew a fayre payre ofheeles. 

Prince Henry. But, Francis, darest thou be so valiant as to 
play the coward with thy indenture and show it a fair pair of 
heels. i Henry IV. ii. 4. 

17 God have mercie horse. 

According to Tarltoris Jests, 1611, this form of speech arose 
from an adventure of Richard Tarleton, the player, with Banks's 
performing horse, Morocco. 

The[re] was one Banks, in the time of Tarlton, who served 
the Erie of Essex, and had a horse of strange qualities, and 
being at the Crosse-keyes, in Gracious streete, [Gracechurch 
Street] getting mony with him, as he was mightily resorted to. 
Tarlton then, with his fellowes, playing at the Bel [the Red Bull 
in Bishopsgate Street] by, came into the Crosse-keyes, amongst 
many people, to see fashions, which Banks perceiving, to make 
the people laugh, saies ; seignior, to his horse, go fetch me the 
veryest foole in the company. The jade comes immediately, 
and with his mouth drawes Tarlton forth. Tarlton with merry 
words, said nothing but, " God a mercy, horse." In the end 
Tarlton, seeing the people laugh so, was angry inwardly, and 


And that the eye seeth not, the hart reweth not ; 18 
And that he must needes goe whom the divell doth drive ^ 
He forcing me for mine ease to contrive, 
To let her fast and freat alone for me, 
I goe where merry chat and good cheere may be. 
Much spend I abroad, which at home should be spent, 
If she would leave controlling and bee content. 
There lept a whiting, (quoth she), and lept in streite. 
Take a haire from his beqrd, and marke this conceite, 

said : Sir, had I power of your horse as you have, I would doe 
more than that. What ere it be, said Banks, to please him, I 
will charge him to do it. Then, said Tarleton : charge him to 
bring me the veriest whore-master in the company. The horse 
leades his master to him. Then " God a mercy horse indeed," 
saies Tarlton. The people had much ado to keep peace ; but 
Banks and Tarlton had like to have squar'd, and the horse by 
to give aime. But ever after it was a by word thorow London, 
God a mercy horse ! and is so to this day. 

18 That the eye seeth not, &>c. 

Thou art now, Francesco, to be a lover, not a divine ; to 
measure thy affections by Ovid's principles, not by rules of 

theology What ! the blinde eats many a flie, and much 

water runnes by the mill that the miller never knowes of : the 
evill that the eye sees not, the hart rues not. Caste si non caute. 
Tush, Francesco, Isabel hath not Lynceus eyes, to see so farre. 
Therefore while thou art resident in London, enjoy the beauty 
of Infida, and when thou art at home, onely content thee with 
Isabel. GREENE'S Never too Late, 1590. 

19 He must needes goe, &>c. 

There is a proverb which trewe now preveth, 
He must nedes go that the uyvell dryveth. 

HEYWOOD'S Johan Johan the Husbande, Tyb 
his wyfe and Syr Jhan the Freest^ 1533* 


He maketh you beleeve, by lyes layd on by lode, 
My brauling at home maketh him banquet abrode. 
Where his banquets abroad, make me braule at home. 
For as in a frost, a mud wall made of lome 
Cracketh and crummeth in peeces asunder, 
So melteth his money to the worlds wonder. 
Thus may ye see to turne the cat in the pan 
Or set the cart before the horse^ well he can. 
He is but little at home, the truth is so, 
And forth with him he will not let me go. 

2 To turne the cat in the pan. 

It may safely be maintained that the proverb as originally 
spoken was, " to turn the cate in the pan ; " cate being an old 
word for cake. 

Feasting with Pluto and his Proserpine 
Night after night with all delicious cates. 

The Hog hath lost his Pearl. 

It is supposed that cate takes its origin from the final syllable 
of the word delicate; and that from this comes our modern 
word to cater. 

Some philologers have seen in this phrase a corruption of 
the French guet-a-pens, and others refer it to the Low Latin 
catapanus, or the Greek Hetrairavu. 
As for Bernard, often tyme he turneth the cat in the pan. 

SHACKLOCK'S Hatchet of Heresies , 1565. 
1 Set the cart before the horse. 

II mettoyt la charette devant les beufz. 


This is Harry White's humour. 

Item. He deemes that a preposterous government where the 
wife predominates, and the husband submits to her discretion, 
that is Hysterion and Proteron, the cart before the horse. 

Harry White^ his Humour. 


And if I come to be merry where he is, 

Then is he mad, as ye shall heare by this. 

Where he with gossips at a banquet late was, 

At which as use is, he payd all, but let pas : 

I came to be merrie. Wherewith merrily, 

Proface. Have among you, blinde harpers? (say'd I) ; 

The moe the merrier? we all day here see. 

Yea, but the fewer the better fare, (sayd he). 

Then here were, ere I came, (quoth I), too many ; 

Here is but little meate left, if there be any. 

And it is ill camming) I have heard say, 

3 Have among you, blinde harpers. 

Macaulay observes that in the old ballad poetry, all the gold 
is " red " and all the ladies " gay." So also, it may be remarked 
that, as in the instance before us, all the harpers are afflicted 
with blindness. The " have among you " is merely an expression 
of conviviality accompanying the drinking of a toast. 

ILeoc. Have towards thee, Philotas. 
Phil. To thee, Archippus. 
Arch. To thee, Molops. 
Mo lops. Have among you, blind fiddlers. 

CARTWRIGHT'S Royall Slave, 1651. 

" The Poet's Blind Man's Bough : or Have among you blinde 
Harpers" was the title of a tract by Martin Parker, printed 
in 1651. 

3 The moe the merrier. 

Store makes no sore : loe this seemes contrarye, 
And mo the merier is a Proverbe eke, 
But store of sores maye make a maladye, 

tAnd one to many maketh some to seeke, 
When two be mette that bankette with a leche. 
GASCOIGNE'S Posies, 1575. 


To th end of a shot, and beginning of a fray. 

Put by thy purse, (quoth he), thou shalt not pay. 

And fray here should be none, were thou gone thy way. 

Here is since thou camst too many feete a bed. 

Welcome when thou goest ; thus is thine errand sped. 

I come, (quoth I), to be one here, if I shall, 

It is merrie in hall when beards wagge all* 

What, bid me welcome pig : I pray thee kisse me : 

Nay farewell sow, (quoth he), our Lord blesse me 

From bassing of beasts of Bearebinder lane. 

I have, (quoth I), for fine sugar, fayre rats bane. 

Many yeares since my mother sayd to me, 

Her elders would say, it is better to be 

An old mans derling than ayong mans werling. 

In my old husbands daies, for as tenderly 

He loved me as ye love me slenderly, 

We drew both in one line. Quoth he, would to our Lord 

Ye had, in that drawing hangd both in one cord. 

For I never meete thee at flesh nor at fish, 

4 // is merrie in hall when beards wagge all. 
Swithe mury hit is in halle, 
When burdes wawen alle. 

Life of A lexander, 1312. 

Silence. Be merry, be merry, my wife has all ; 
For women are shrews, both short and tall, 
3 Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all. 

2 Henry IV. v. 3. 


But I have sure a dead mans head in my dish? 
Whose best and worst day, that wisht may be, 
Was when thou didst burie him and marrie me. 
If you, quoth I, long for change in these cases, 
Would to God he and you had changed places. 
But best I change place, for here I may be sparde, 
And for my kinde comming, this is my rewarde. 
Must she not, (quoth he), be welcome to us all, 
Among us all letting such a farewell fall ? 
Such carpenters, such chips, (quoth she), folke tell, 
Such lips, such lettice, such welcome, suck farewell. 
Thine owne words, (quoth he), thine owne welcome 


Well, (said she), whensoever we twaine have jard, 
My words be pried at narrowly I espie, 
Ye can see a mote in another mans eie, 
But ye cannot see a balke in your owne. 
Ye marke my wordes, but not that they be growne 
By your revellous riding on every royle, 6 
Welny every day a new mare or a moyle, 
As much unhonest as unprofitable, 
Which shall bring us shortly to be unable, 

5 A dead mans head in my dish. 

As bold-fac'd women, when they wed another; 
Banquet their husbands with their dead love's heads. 

MARSTON'S Insatiate Countess. 

6 Royle, i.e. a Flemish horse. 


To give a dog a loafe, as I have oft said. 

How be it your pleasure may no time be denaid, 

But still you must have both the finest meate, 

Apparell, and all things that money may get, 

Like one of fond fancie so fine and so neate, 

That would have better bread than is made of wheate. 

The best is best cheape? (quoth he), men say cleere. 

Well, (quoth she), a man may buy gold too deere. 

Ye neither care, nor welny cast what ye pay, 

To buy the deerestfor the best alway. 

Then for your diet who useth feeding such, 

Eate more than enough, and drinke much more too 

But temprance teacheth this, where he keepeth 

schoole ; 

He that knoweth when he hath enough is no foole. 
Feed by measure, and defie the phisition ! 
And in the contrarie mark this condition ; 
A swine over fat is cause of his owne bane. 
Who seeth nought herein, his wit is in the wane. 
But pompous provision, comth not all alway 

7 The best is best cheape. 

Whereto shuld I threpe ? 
With my staff can I lepe, 
And men say, " lyght chepe 
Letherly for-yeldys." 

Towneley Mysteries, circa 1420. 


Of gluttonie, but pride sometime, some say. 

But this proverbe preacheth to men haute or hie, 

Hew not too hie, lest the chips fall in thine eye? 

Measure is a merrie meane? as this doth show, 

Not too hie for the pie nor too low for the crow. 

The difference between staring and stark blinde, 

The wise man at all times to follow can finde. 

And ywis an auditour of a meane wit, 

May soone account, though hereafter come not yit. 

Yet is he sure be the day never so long, 

Evermore at last they ring to evensong. 

And where ye spend much though ye spent but lickell, 

Yet little and little the cat eateth theflickell. 

Little losse by length may grow importable. 

A mouse in time may bite a two a cable. 

Thus to end of all things, be we leefe or loth, 

8 Hew not too hie, &*c. 

For an old proverbe it is ledged " he that heweth to hie, with 
chips he may lose his sight." CHAUCER, Testament of Love. 

9 Measure is a merrie meane. 

Magn. Yet mesure is a mery mene. 
Fan. Ye, syr, a blannched almonde is no bene, 
Measure is mete for a marchauntes hall. 

Interlude of Magnyfycence, circa 1520. 

10 Be the day never so long, &*<:. 

For though the day be never so long 
At last the bell rings for evensong. 

STEPHEN HAWES, Pastime of Pleasure. 


Yet loe, the pot so long to the water goth, 
Till at last it commeth home broken.- 
Few words to the wise suffise to be spoken. 
If ye were wise, here were enough, (quoth she). 
Here is enough and too much, dame, (quoth he). 
For though this appeare a proper pulpit peece, 
Yet when the foxe preacheth, then beware your geese. 
A good tale ill tolde, in the telling is mard. 
So are, (quoth she), good tales well tolde, and ill" hard. 
Thy tales, (quoth he), shew long haire and short 

11 The pot so long to the water goth, &C. 

And th erf ore it is a trew proverbe, >at " The potte may goo 
so longe to water, that atte the laste it is broken ;" as this leude 
woman that had her husbonde ten tymes fairer thanne the 
prioure the which she toke, and that she was ascaped bi the 
\ helpe of the false bauude her godsib of ij suche periles that her 
husbonde hadde founde by her, and after that she had broken 
her husbondes comaundement, and therefor he brake her legges, 
and yet she wolde not be chastised. The Book of the Knight 
of La Tour-Landry^ MS. circa 1450. 

As every storme hath his calme, and the greatest spring-tide 
the deadest ebbe, so fared it with Francesco ; for so long went 
the pot to the water, that at last it came broken home, and so long 
put he his hand into his purse, that at last the empty bottome 
returned him a writ of Non est inventus : for well might the divell 
daunce there, for ever a crosse there was to keep him backe. 
GREENE'S Never too Late, 1590. 

13 Long haire and short wit. 

Hair ! ; tis the basest stubble ; in scorn of it 
The proverb sprung, He has more hair than wit. 

DECKER'S Satiromastix, 1602. 


But long be thy legs, and short be thy life. 
Pray for yourself . I am not sick, (quoth she). 
Well lets see what thy last tale comth to, (quoth he). 
Thou saist I spend all, to this thy words wander : 
But as deepe drinketh the goose as the gander. 
Thou canst cough in the aumbrie if neede bee, 
When I shall cough without bread or broth for thee. 
Whereby while thou sendst me abrode to spend, 
Thou gossipst at home to meete me at lands end. 
Well, thou wouldst have me, (quoth he), pinch like a 


Every day to be thy drivell and drudge. 
Not so, (quoth she), but I would have ye sturre 
Honestly to keepe the wo o If e from the durre. 
I would drive the woolfe out of doore first, (quoth he) ; 
And that can I not doe, till I drive out thee. 
A man were better be drownd in Venice gulfe 
Than have such a bearded beare, or such a woolfe. 
But had I not been witcht, my wedding to flee, 
The termes that long to wedding had warnd mee, 
First wooing for woing, banna for banning, 
The banes for my bane, and then this thus scanning. 

Speed. Item she hath more hair than wit. 

Launce. More hair than wit, it may be ; I'll prove it : The 
cover of the salt hides the salt, and therefore it is more than the 
salt : the hair, that covers the wit, is more than the wit, for the 
greater hides the less. Two Gentlemen of Verona, iii. 2. 


Marrying, marring. And what maried I than ? 

A woman. As who say, woe to the man. 

Thus wed I with woe, wed I Gill, wed I Jane, 

I pray God the divell goe with thee downe the lane. 

I graunt, (quoth she), this doth sound, (as ye agreed), 

On your side in words, but on my side in deede. 

Thou grantst this graunt, (quoth he), without any grace 

Ungraciously, to thy side to turne this case. 

Leave this, (quoth she), and leave liberalitie, 

To stint strife, growne by your prodigalitie. 

Oft said the wise man, whom I erst did berrie, 

Better are meales many, than one too merrie. 

Well, (quoth he), that is answered with this, wife : 

Better is one months cheere, than a churles whole life. 

I thinke it learning of a wiser lectour, 

To learne to make my selfe mine owne erectour, 

Than spare for another that might .wed thee, 

As the foole thy first husband spared for mee. 

And as for ill places, thou seekest me in more 

And in woorse too, than I into any goe. 

Whereby this proverbe shewth thee in by the weeke, 

No man will another in the oven seeke, 

Except that himself e hath been there before 

13 No man will another in the oven seeke, except that himself e 
hath been there before. 

A hackney proverb in mens mouths ever since King Lud was 


God give grace them hast been good, I say no more, 
And would have thee say lesse except thou couldst 


Such processe as thou slanderously dost move. 
For slaunder perchance, (quoth she), I not deny, 
It may be a slaunder, but it is no ly. 
It is a lye, (quoth he), and thou a Her. 
Will ye, (quoth she), drive me to touch ye nyer ? 
I rub the gald horse back, till he winch, and yit, 
He would make it seeme that I touch him no whit. 
But I wot what I wot, though I few words make : 
Many kisse the child for the nurses sake. 
Ye have many god children to looke upon, 
And ye blesse them all, but ye basse but one. 
This halfe shewth what the whole meaneth, that I meeve, 
Ye fetch circumquaques to make me beleeve, 
Or thinke, that the moone is made of a greene cheese^ 
And when ye have made me a lout in all these, 
It seemeth ye would make me goe to bed at noone. 

a little boy, or Belinus, Brennus' brother, for the love heebare to 
oysters, built Billingsgate. N ASH'S Have with you to Saffron 
Waldon, 1596. 

14 The moone is made of a greene cheese. 

Whilst they tell for truthe Luther his lowde lyes, so that they 
may make theyr blinde brotherhode and the ignorant sort beleve 
that the mone is made of grene chese. SHACKLOCK'S Hatchet of 
Heresies, 1565. 


Nay, (quoth he), the day of doome shall be doone, 

Ere thou goe to bed at noone or night for mee. 

Thou art, (to be plaine and not to flatter thee), 

As holsome a morsell for niy comely corse 

As a shoulder of mutton for a sicke horse. 

The divell with his dam hath more rest in hell, 

Than I have here with thee : but well, wife, well ! 

Well, well, (quoth she), many wels, many buckets. 

Yea, (quoth he), and many words, many buffets. 

Had you some husband, and snapt at him thus, 

I wis he would give you a recumbentibus. 

A dog will barke ere he bite, and so thow, 

After thy barking wilt bite me, I trow now. 

But it is hard to make an old dog stoup, lo. 

Sir, (quoth she), a man may handle his dog so 

That he may make him bite him, though he would not. 

Husbands are in heaven, (quoth he), whose wives scold 


Thou makest me claw where it itcheth not. I would 
Thy tongue were coold to make thy tales more cold. 
That aspen leafe such spitefull clapping hath bred, 
That my cap is better at ease then my head. 
God send that head, (sayd she), a better nurse : 
For when the head aketh, all the bodie is the wurse. 
God grant, (quoth I), the head and bodie both two, 
To nurse each other better then they do : 


Or ever have done for the most times past. 

I brought to nurse both, (quoth she), had it not been 


Margerie good coiv, (quoth he), gave a good meale : 
But then she cast it downe againe with her heele. 
How can her purse for profit be delitefull, 
Whose person and properties be thus spitefull ? 
A peece of a kid is worth two of a cat. 
Who the dive II will change a r abet for a rat ? 
If I might change, I would rather choose to begge, 
Or sit with a roasted apple or an egge, 
Where mine appetite serveth mee to bee, 
Then every day to fare like a Duke with thee. 
Like a Duke, like a Duke, (quoth she), thou shalt fare, 
Except thou wilt spare more than thou dost yet spare. 
Thou farest too well (quoth he), but thou art so wood, 
Thou knowst not who doth thee harme, who doth thee 


Yes yes, (quoth she), for all those wise words uttred, 
/ know on which side my bread is buttred : 15 
But there will no butter cleave on my bread : 
And on my bread any butter to be spread ; 
Every promise that thou therein dost utter, 

15 / knew on which side my bread is buttred. 
One of the proverbs Samuel Fox has jotted down in his common- 
place book, MS. LANSDOWNE, 679. 


Is as sure as it were sealed with butter, 

Or a mouse tyed with a threed. Every good thing 

Thou lettest even slip, like a waghalter slipstring. 

But take up in time, or els I protest, 

All be not in bed that shall have ill rest. 

Now goe to thy derlings, and declare thy griefe : 

Where all thy pleasure is, hop whore, pipe thiefe. 


this thence hopt she, wherewith, O Lord, 

he cride, 
What wretch but I, this wretchedness could 

bide ? 

Howbeit in all this woe, I have no wrong, 
For it onely is all on my selfe along. 
Where I should have bridled her first with rough bit, 
To have made her chew on the bridle one fit, 
For licorous lucre of a little winning, 
I gave her the bridle at beginning. 
And now she taketh the bridle in the teeth, 
And runn'th away with it, whereby each man seeth, 
It is, (as old men right well understand), 


III putting a nak't sword in a mad mans hand. 
She takth siich hart of grace ^ though I maime her, 
Or kill her, yet shall I never reclaime her. 
She hath, (they say), been stiffe necked evermore, 
And it is ill healing of an old sore. 
This proverbe prophecied many yeares agone, 
It will not out of the flesh, that is bred in the bone} 1 
What chance have I, to have a wife of such sort, 
That will no fault amend in earnest nor sport ? 
A small thing amisse lately I did espie, 
Which to make her mend, by a jest merrilie, 
I said but this ; taunt tivet wife, your nose drops, 
So it may fall, I will eate no browesse sops 
This day. But two daies after this came in ure, 
I had sorow to my sops enough, be sure. 
Well (quoth I), it is ill jesting, on the sooth : 

16 She takth such hart of grace. 

This proverbial sentence would seem to have originally been 
" to take heart at grass " from the idea of an animal at grass 
becoming strong and hearty. 

Seeing she would take no warning, on a day took heart at 
grasse, and belaboured her well with a cudgel. TARLTON'S News 
out of Purgatory , 1590. 

17 It will not out of the flesh, &*c. 

Downright. He values me at a crack'd three farthings, for 
aught I see. It will never out of the flesh that's bred in the bone. 
I have told him enough, one would think, if that would serve : 
but counsel to him is as good as a shoulder of mutton to a sick 
horse. BEN JONSON, Every Man in his Humour. 


Sooth bourd is no bourd in ought that mirth dooth. 

Such jests could not juggle her, were ought amis, 

Nor turne melancholy to mirth : for it is 

No playing with a straw before an old cat ; 

Every trifling toy age cannot laugh at. 

Ye may walke this way, but sure ye shall finde, 

The further ye goe, the further behinde. 

Ye shoulde consider the woman is olde : 

And what for a hot word. Soone hot, soone colde. 

Beare with them that beare with you, for she is scand, 

Not onely the fairest flowre in your garland, 

But also she is all the faire flowers thereof. 

Will ye requite her then with a taunting scof, 

Or with any other kinde of unkindnes ? 

Take heede is a faire thing : beware this blindnes. 

Why will ye, (quoth he), I shall follow her will, 

To make me John drawlatch, 19 or such a snekebill, 

To bring her solace that bringeth me sorow ? 

18 Sooth bourd is no bourd. 

Sooth is an old English word meaning "in earnest ;" bourd 
means "a jest." 

As the old saying is, sooth boord is no boord. HARRINGTON'S 
Brief e Apologie of Poetrie, 1591. 

19 John drawlatch. 

Well, phisition, attend me in my chamber heere, till Stilt and 
I returne ; and if I pepper him not, say I am not worthy to be 
cald a duke but a drawlatch. Tragedy of Hoffman, 1602. 


Bir Ladie, then shall we catch birds to morow. 

A good wife maketh a good husband, (they say). 

That (quoth I), you may turne another way : 

To make a good husband, make a good wife ; 

I can no more herein, but God stint all strife. 

Amen, (quoth he), and God have mercie brother, 

I will now mend this house and payre another. 

And that he ment of likelihood by his owne ; 

For so appaird he that, ere three yeares were growne, 

That little and little he decayed so long, 

Till he at length came to buckle and bare thong. 

To discharge charge, that necessarily grew, 

There was no more water then the ship drew. 

Money and money worth did so misse him, 

That he had not now one peny to blisse him. 

Which foreseene in this woman, wisely waying, 

That meet was to stay somewhat for her staying, 

To keepe yet one messe for Alison in store, 

She kept one bagge, that he had not seene before. 

A poore cooke that may not licke his owne fingers ; 20 

But about her at home now still he lingers, 

20 A poore cooke, &>c. 

He is an evyll coke y l can not lycke his owne lippes. Vulgaria 
Stambrigi, circa 1510. 

Capulet. Sirrah, go hire me twenty cunning cooks. 

2 Servant. You shall have none ill, sir ; for I'll try if they can 
lick their fingers. Romeo and Juliet, iv. 2. 


But whether any secret tales were sprinkling, 
Or that he by gesse had got an inkling 
Of her hoord : or that he thought to amend 
And turne his ill beginning to a good end, 
In shewing himselfe a new man, as was fit, 
That appeared shortly after, but not yit. 


|NE day in their arbour which stood so to 


That I might and did closely mine eare incline, 
And likewise cast mine eare to heare and see, 
What they said and did, where they could not see mee, 
He unto her a goodly tale began, 
More like a wooer than a wedded man, 
As far as matter thereof therein served, 
But the first part from words of wooing swerved : 
And stood upon repentance, with submission 
Of his former crooked unkind condition. 
Praying her to forgive and forget all free, 
As he forgave her, as he forgiven would bee : 
Loving her now as he full deeply swore, 
As hotly as ever he loved her before. 


Well, well, (quoth she), whatever ye now say, 

// is too late to call againe yesterday. 

Wife, (quoth he), such may my diligence seeme, 

That th' offence of yesterday I may redeeme. 

God taketh me as I am, and not as I was ; 

Take you me so too, and let all things past pas. 

I pray thee good wife, think I speake and thinke 


What ! he runrith far that never turnth againe. 
Ye be yong enough to mend, I agree it, 
But I am, (quoth she), too old to see it. 
And amend ye or not, I am too old a yeere : 
What is life, where living is extinct cleere, 
Namely at old yeares of least helpe and most 

neede ? 

But no tale could tune you in time to take heede. 
If I tune myself now, (quoth he), it is faire : 
And hope of true tune, shall tune me from dispaire. 
Beleeve well and have well, men say. Yea, (said shee) ; 
Doe well and have well, men say also, we see. 
But what man can beleeve, that man can doe well, 
Who of no man will counsaile take, or heare tell ? 
Which to you, when any man any way tride, 
Then were ye deafe, ye coidd not heare on that side. 
Who ever with you any time therein weares, 
He must both tell you a tale, and lend you eares. 


You had on your harvest eares, 1 thicke of hearing, 

But this is a question of old enquering : 

Who is so deafe or so blinde, as is hee, 

That wilfully will neither heare nor see ? 

When I saw your maner, my heart for woe molt. 

Then would ye mend as thefletcher mends his bolt, 

Or sowre ale mendeth in summer, I know, 

And kneWy which way the winde blew and will blow. 

Though not to my profit a prophet was 1 : 

I prophecied this, too true a prophecie. 

When I was right ill beleeved, and worse hard, 

By flinging from your folkes at home, which all mard. 

When I said in semblance either cold or warme, 

A man far from his good r , is nigh his harme. 

Or wild ye to looke, that ye lost no more, 

On such, as shew that hungrieflyes bite sore. 

Then would ye looke over me with stomack swolne, 

Like as the dive II look't over Lincolnes 

1 You had on your harvest eares. 

Thine eares be on pilgrimage, or in the wildernes, as they say 
commonly, thou hast on thy harvest eares, vestrce peregrinantur 
aures. Withal 's Dictionary, 1608. 

2 Like as the divell lootft over Lincolne. 

A Tour through England and Wales, 1742, gives the following 
as the origin of the proverb : 

The middle or Rood tower of Lincoln cathedral is the highest 
in the whole kingdom, and when the spire was standing on it, 
it must, in proportion to the height of the tower, have exceeded 


The divell is dead wife, (quoth he), for ye see, 
I looke like a Lambe in all your words to mee. 
Looke as ye list now, (quoth she), thus look't ye than ; 
And for those lookes I shew this, to shew each man, 
Such proofe of this proverbe, as none is greater : 
Which saith, that some man may steale a horse better 
Than some other may stand and looke upon? 
Lewd huswives might have words, but I not one 
That might be allowd. But now if ye looke, 
In mistaking me ye may see, yee tooke 

that of old St. Paul's, which was five hundred and twenty feet. 
The monks were so proud of this structure, that they would have 
it that the Devil looked upon it with an envious eye : whence the 
proverb of a man who looks invidious and malignant, " he looks 
as the Devil over Lincoln." 

Another account is given by Ray in 1737 : 

Some refer this to Lincoln Minster, over which when first 
finished, the Devil is supposed to have looked with a torne and 
terrick countenance, as envying men's costly devotion, saith Dr. 
Fuller ; but more probable it is, that it took its rise from a small 
image of the Devil, standing on the top of Lincoln College, in 

It \^ill be remembered that in Sir Walter Scott's novel of 
Kenilixjorth) Giles Gosling, the host of the Black Bear at 
Cumnor, thus addresses Tressilian : " Here be a set of good 
fellows willing to be merry ; do not scowl on them like the 
Devil looking over Lincoln." 

3 Some man may steale a horse, d^c. 

Tophas. Good Epi, let mee take a nap ; for as some man may 
better steale a horse then another looke over a hedge ; so divers 
shall be sleepie when they would fainest take rest. LYLY'S 
Endimion, 1591. 


The wrong way to wood, and the wrong sow by ttt eare ; , 
And thereby in the wrong box to thrive, yee were. 
I have heard some to some tell this tale not seeld, 
When thrift is in the towne, yee be in the feeld. 
But contrary, you make that sense to sowne, 
Whan thrift was in the field, ye ware in the towne. 
Field ware must sinke or swim, while ye had eny : 
Towne ware was your ware, to turne the peny. 
But towne or field, where most thrift did appiere, 
What ye wan iu the hundred, ye lost in the shier e. 
In all your good husbandrie, thus rid the rock, 
Ye stumbled at a straw, and lept over a block? 
So many kindes of increase you had in choice, 
And nought increase or keepe, how can I rejoice ? 
Good riding at two ankers, men have tolde, 
For if the tone faile, the tother may holde. 
But you leave all ankerhold on seas and lands : 

4 The wrong sow by th' eare. 

Downright. Well ! he knows what to trust to, for George ; 
let him spend, and spend, and domineer till his heart ake, an he 
think to be relieved by me, when he has got into one o'your city 
pounds, the counters, he has the wrong sow by the ear, i'faith ; 
and claps his dish at the wrong man's door. JONSON'S Every 
Man in his Humour, ii. 7. 

5 Ye stumbled at a straw, &>c. 

This tale touchethe them, that wolde cover a smalle offence 
with a greatter wyckednesse ; and as the proverbe sayethe : 
Stomble at a strawe, and leape over a blocke, Mery Tales and 
Quicke Answer es, 1567. 


And so set zip shop upon Goodwins sands. 
But as folke have a saying both old and trew, 
In that they say, blacke will take none other hew. 
So may I say heere, to my deepe dolour, 
// is a bad cloth that will take no colour. 
This case is yours. For ye were so wise, 
To take specke of colour, of good advise. 
Th' advise of all friends I say, one and other 
Went in at the tone eare and out at the tother? 
And as those words went out, this proverbe in came, 
He that will not be ruled by his owne dame, 
Shall be ruled by his stepdame ; and so you, 
Having lost your owne good, and owne friends now, 
May seeke your forreine friends, if you have any. 
And sure one of my great griefs, among many, 
Is that ye have been so very a hog 
To my friends. What man, love me, love my dog? 

6 In at the tone eare and out at the tother. 

But Troilus, that nigh for sorrow deide, 
Tooke little hede of all that ever he ment ; 
One eare it heard, at the other out it went. 
CHAUCER, Troilus and Creseide. 
1 Love me, love my dog. 

This was a proverb in the time of Saint Bernard : Dicitur 
certe vulgari quodam proverbio : Oui me amat, amet et canem 
meum. In Festo S. Michaelis. Sermo Primus. 

Cudora. Love me ? love my dog ! 

Tharsalis. I am bound to that by the proverb, madam. 

CHAPMAN'S Widow's Tears, 1612. 


But you to cast precious stones before hogs 
Cast my good before a sort of dogs 
And sawte bitches : which by whom now devoured, 
And your honestie among them defloured, 
And that you may no more expence afoord, 
Now can they not affoord you one good woord, 
And you them as few. And old folke understood, 
When theeves fall out, true men come to their good. 
Which is not alway true. For in all that bretch, 
I can no farthing of my good the more fetch, 
Nor I trow themselves neither, if they were sworne. 
Light come, light goe? And sure since we were borne, 
Ruine of one ravine, was there none gretter : 
For by your gifts they be as little the better, 
As you be much the worse, and I cast away. 
An ill winde that bloweth no man to good? men say. 
Well (quoth he), every winde blowth not downe the corne. 
I hope, (I say), good hap be not all out-worne. 
I will now begin thrift, when thrift seemeth gone. 

8 Light come, light goe. 

Wyte them wele it schall be so, 
That lyghtly cum, schall lyghtly go. 

Debate of the Carpenters Tools. 

9 An ill winde, &c. 

Falstaff. What wind blew you hither, Pistol ? 
Pistol. Not the ill wind which blows no man to good. 

2 Henry IV. v. 3. 


What wife ! there be more waies to the wood than one. 

And I will assay all the waies to the wood, 

Till I finde one way, to get againe this good. 

Ye will get it againe, (quoth she), I feare, 

As shortly as a horse will licke his eare. 

Good words bring not ever of good deedes good hope. 

And these words shew your words spoken in skorne, 

It pricketh betimes that will be a good thorne^ 

Timely crooketh the tree, that will a good camok bee. 11 

And such beginning sitch end, we all day see. 

And you by me at beginning being thriven, 

And then to keepe thrift could not be prickt nor driven. 

How can ye now get thrift, the stocke being gon, 

Which is the onely thing to raise thrift upon ? 

Men say, he may ill runne that cannot go e, 

And your gaine without your stocke runneth even so. 

For what is a workman without his tooles ? 

Tales of Robin Hood are good for fooles. 

10 It pricketh betimes that will be a good thorne. 

In the interlude of Jacob and Esau, 1568, the old nurse Debora, 
while making preparations for Isaac's repast, sings : 
It hath bene a proverbe before I was borne, 
Yong doth it pricke that wyll be a thorne. 

11 Timely crooketh the tree, &. 

A camok is a crooked piece or knee of timber, most frequently 
used in ship-building. 

Timely, madam, crooks the tree that will be a camock, and 
young it pricks that will be a thorn. LYLY'S Endimion. 


Hee can ill pype, that lacketh his upper lippe. 
Who lacketh a stock, his gaine is not worth a chip. 
A tale of a tubbe ; 12 your tale no truth avouth, 
Ye speake now as yee would creepe into my mouth ; 
In pure paynted processe, as false as fay re y 
How yee will amend, when ye cannot apayre. 
I heard once a wise man say to his daughter, 
Better is the last smile, than the first laughter. 
Wee shall I trust, (quoth he), laugh again at last, 
Although I be once out of the saddle cast. 
Yet since I am bent to sit, this will I doo, 
Recover the horse, or leese the saddle too. 

12 A tale of a tubbe. 

The translator of Delia Casa's Galatea, 1576, finds for an 
Italian phrase signifying " contention," the English equivalent 
" a tale of a tubbe/' Such, he says, it is to say : 

Such an one that was the sonne of such a one, that dwelt in 
Cocamer street : do you knowe him ? he married the daughter of 
Gianfigliazzi, the leane scragg that went so much to St. Laraunce. 
No, do not you know him? why do not you remember the goodly 
strayght old man that ware long haire downe to his shoulders? &c. 
In BEN JONSON'S comedy of this name, when Squire Tub of 
Tottenham commands the company of mechanics to perform a 
stage play before him, he directs, 

Fd have a toy presented, 
A Tale of a Tub, a story of myself, 
You can express a Tub ? 

To which Medlay, the joiner, replies : 

I can express a wash-house, if need be, 
With a whole pedigree of Tubs. 


Yee never could yet, (quoth shee), recover any hap, 

To win or save ought, to stoppe any one gap. 

For stopping of gap, (quoth he), care not a rush. 

I will learne to stop two gaps with one bush. 

Yee will, (quoth shee), as soone stop gaps with rushes 

As with any husbandly handsom bushes. 

Your tales have lyke tast, where temprance is taster, 

To breake my head, and then geve me a plaster. 

Now thrift is gone, now would yee thrive in all haste, 

And whan yee had thrift, yee had lyke hast to waste. 

Yee liked then better an ynch of your will, 

Than an ell of your thrift. Wife, (quoth he), be still 

May I be holpe foorth an ynch at a pinch, 

I will yet thrive, (I say), as good is an ynch 

As an ell. Yee can, (quoth shee), make it so well, 

For when I gave you an inch, you tooke an ell, 

Till both ell and inch be gone, and we in det 

Nay, (quoth he), with a wet finger ye can set 

As much as may easily all this matter ease, 

And this debate also pleasantly appease. 

I could doo as much with an hundred pounds now, 

13 With a wet finger. 

To obtain anything with a wet finger seems to be a figurative 
phrase for obtaining it with ease ; and is supposed to derive its 
use from the habit of tracing a lady's name on the table with 
spilt wine to serve the purposes of gallantry and intrigue. Such a 
practice was not unknown to the amatory poets of antiquity : 



As with a thowsand afore, I assure you. 

Yea, (quoth she), who had that he hath not, would 

Doo that hee doth not, as old men have told. 

Had I as yee have I would do more (quoth hee) 

Than the Priest spake of on Sunday, yee should see. 

Ye doo, as I have, (quoth shee), for nought I have, 

And nought yee doo. What man ! I trow yee rave. 

Would yee both eat your cake, and have your cake ? 

Yee have had of mee al that I would make ; 

And bee a man never so greedy to win, 

Hee can have no more of the foxe but the skin. 

Well, (quoth he), if ye list to bring it out, 

Yee can geve me your blessing in a cloute. 

That were for my childe, (quoth she), had I ony, 

Verba leges digitis, verba notata mero. 

OVID, Amor. i. 4. 20. 
So in Tibullus, lib. i. el. 6 : 

Neu te decipiat nutu, digitoque liquorem 

Ne trahat, et mensae ducat in orbe notas. 
The use of this expression is frequent among the Elizabeth- 
ans, but does not seem to have descended to the later writers. 

Enquire what gallants sup in the next room ; and if they be 
any of your acquaintance, do not you, after the city fashion, 
send in a pottle of wine and your name, . , . but rather keep a 
boy in fee, who underhand shall proclaim you in every room, 
what a gallant fellow you are, how much you spend yearly in 
taverns, what a great gamester, what custom you bring to the 
house, in what witty discourse you maintain a table, what 
gentlewomen or citizens 7 wives you can with a wet finger have at 
any time to sup with you, and such like. The Gull's Hornbook, 


But husband, I have neither child nor mony. 
Yee cast and conjecture thus much, lyke in show, 
As the blind man casts his staffe, or shootes at the 

crow ; 

How be it, had I money right much, and yee none, 
Yet to be plaine, yee should have for Jone. 
Nay, hee that first flattreth me, as yee have doone, 
And doth, as yee did to me after, so soone : 
Hee may be in tny Pater noster in deede, 
But be sure, he shall never come into my Creede^ 
Ave Maria, (quoth he), how much motion 
Here is to prayers, with how little devotion. 
But some men say, no peny, no Pater noster.^ 

14 Hee may be hi my Pater noster, &C. 

I trust yee remember your jugling at Newington with a 
christall stone, your knaveries in the wood by Wanstead, the 
wondrous treasure you would discover in the Isle of Wight, al 
your villanies about that peece of service, as perfectly known to 
some of my friends yet living as their Pater-noster, who curse the 
time you ever came into their creed. CHETTLE'S Kind-Heart's 
Dream, 1592. 

15 No peny, no Pater noster. 

The Pater-noster, which was wont to fill a sheet of paper, is 
/ritten in the compasse of a penny ; whereupon one merrily 
,ssumed that proverbe to be derived, No penny no pater-noster. 
Vhich their nice curtayling putteth mee in minde of the custome 
fthe Scythians, who, if they had beene at any time distressed 
ith famine, tooke in their girdles shorter. GREENE'S Arcadia, 



I say to such, (sayd shee), no longer foster, 

No longer lemman. But faire and well than, 

Pray and shift ech one for himselfe as hee can. 

Everyman for himselfe and God for us all. 

To those wordes he sayd nought, but forthwith did 


From harping on that string, to faire flattring speech, 
And as I erst sayd, hee did her so beseech, 
That things erst so far off, were now so far on, 
That as shee may wallow, away shee is gon, 
Where all that was left lay with a trustie frend, 
Dwelling a good walke from her at the townes end. 
And backe againe straight a halting pace she 


Bringing a bag of royals and nobles, 
All that she had without restraint of one jote. 
She brought bullocks noble : for noble or grote 
Had she not one more : which I after well knew. 
And anone smiling toward him as she drew, 
A sir, light burden, far heavie, (quoth she) ; 
This light burden in long walke welny tyreth me. 
God give grace I play not the foole this day ; 
For here / send tti axe after the helme away. 
But if ye will stint and avoyd all strife, 
Love and cherish this, as ye would my life. 
I will (quoth he), wife, by God almightie, 


This geare comnith in pudding time^ rightlie. 

He snatcht at the bag. No haste but good, (quoth 


Short shooting leeseth your game, ye may see, 
Ye mist the cushin^ for all your haste to it. 
And I may set you beside the cushin yit, 
And make you wipe your nose upon your sleeve, 
For ought you shall winne, without you aske me leeve. 
Have yee not heard tell, all covet, all leese ? 
A sir, I see, ye may see no greene cheese, 
But your teeth must water. A good cocknay coke : 
Though he love not to buy the pig in the poke, 
Yet snatch ye at the poke that the pig is in, 
Not for the poke, but for the pig good cheape to win. 
Like one halfe lost, till greedie grasping gat it 

16 In pudding time. 

Formerly, when pudding was the first dish that was served, to 
come in pudding time signified to be in time for dinner, or more 
generally, to arrive in the nick of time. 

Our landlord did that shift prevent, 

Who came in pudding time and tooke his rent. 

TAYLOR'S Works, 1630. 

17 Ye mist the cushin. 

An idiomatic expression, meaning to fail in an undertaking ; 
takes its origin from the practice of archery. 

Trulie, Euphues, you have mist the cushion, for I was neither 
angrie with your long absence, neither am I well pleased at your 
presence. LYLY'S Euphues. 


Ye would be over the stile ere ye come at zV. 18 
But abide friend, your mother bid, till ye were borne, 
Snatching winth it not, if ye snatch till to morne. 
Men say, (said he), long standing and small offring 
Maketh poore Parsons. And in such signes and 


Many pretie tales and merrie toyes had they, 
Before this bag came from her away. 
Kindly he kist her with words not tart nor tough. 
But the cat knowth whose lips she lickth well enough. 1 
Anone, the bag she delivered him, and sayd, 
He should beare it, for that it now heavie wayd. 
With good will, wife, for it is, (sayd he to her), 
A proud horse that will not beare his owne provander 

18 Ye would be over the stile , &c. 

Dulipo. I would fayne have you conclude. 
Erostrato. You would fayne leape over the stile before you come 
at the hedge. GEORGE GASCOIGNE'S Sttpposes, 1575. 

19 The cat knowth whose lips she lickth well enough. 

Li vilains reproche du chat 
Qu'il set bien qui barbes il leche. 
Des trois Dames qui trouverent un anel, circa 1300. 

20 A proud horse that will not bear his own provander. 

Nicholas. Indeed, I am patient, I must needes say, for patience 
in adversitie brings a man to the Three Cranes in the Ventree. 

Coomes. Do yee heere ? set downe your torche : drawe, fight, I 
am for yee. 


And oft before seemd she never so wise, 
Yet was she now suddenly waxen as nise, 
As it had been a halfporth of silver spoones ; 
Thus clowdie mornings turne to cleere after noones. 
But so nie noone it was, that by and by, 
They rose and went to dinner lovingly. 


[HIS dinner thought he long, and straight 

after that, 

To his accustomed customers he gat. 
With whom in what time he spent one grote before, 
In lesse time he spent now ten grotes or more. 
And in small time he brought the world so about, 
That he brought the bottome of the bagge cleane out. 
His gadding thus againe made her ill content : 
But she not so much as dreamde that all was spent. 
Howbeit suddenly she minded on a day, 

Nicholas. And I am for yee too, though it be from the midnight 
to the next morne. 

Coomes. Where be your tooles ? 

Nicholas. Within a mile of an oke, sir, hee's a proud horse that 
will not carry his own provander, I warrant yee. Two Angry 
Women of Abingdon, 1599. 


To pick the chest locke, wherein this bagge lay : 

Determining this, if it lay whole still, 

So shall it lye : no myte she minish will. 

And if the bag began to shrinke, she thought best, 

To take for her part some part of the rest. 

But streight as she had forthwith opened the locke, 

And look't in the bagge, what it was a clocke, 

Then was it proved true, as this proverbe goth, 

He that commeth last to the pot, is soonest wroth, 

By her comming last, and too late to the pot, 

Whereby she was potted thus like a sot, 

To see the pot both skimd for running over, 

And also all the licour runne at rover : 

At her good husbands and her next meeting, 

The divels good grace might have given a greeting, 

Either for honour or honestie as good 

As she gave him. She was, (as they say), home 


She netled him, and he ratled her so, 
That at end of that fray, asunder they go, 
And never after came together againe : 
He turnd her out at doores to grase on the plaine ; 
And himselfe went after. For within fortnight, 
All that was left, was launched out quight 
And thus had he brought haddock to paddock y 
Till they both were not worth a haddock. 


It hath been said, neede maketh the old wife trot. 1 
Other folke said it, but she did it, God wot ; 
First from frend to frend, and then from dur to dur, 
A begging of some that had begged of hur. 
But as men say, miserie may be mother, 
Where one begger is driven to beg of another. 
And thus wore and wasted this most wofull wretch, 
Till death from this life, did her wretchedly fetch. 
Her late husband, and now widower, here and there 
Wandring about, few know, and fewer care, where. 
Cast out as an abject, he leadeth his life, 
Till famine by like, set him after his wife. 

Now let us note here. First of the first twaine, 
Where they wedded, together to remaine, 
Hoping joy full presence should weare out all woe : 
Yet povertie brought that joy to faile so. 
But notably note these last twaine, where as he 

1 Neede maketh the old wife trot. 

Thus travelling, a toiling trade I drive, 

By reason of my age neer seventy five, 

It is my earthly portion and my lot, 

The proverb says " Need makes the old wife trot." 

A Merry Bill of an uncertaine Journey, by TAYLOR, 

the Water Poet. 
Besoin fait vieille trotter. 

Roman de Trubert. circa 1300. 


Tooke her onely, for that he rich would be : 
And she him onely in hope of good hap, 
In her doting daies to be daunst on the lap. 
In condition they differd so many waies, 
That lightly he laid her up for holie daies. 
Her good he laid up so, lest theeves might spie it, 
That neither she could, nor he can come by it. 
Thus failed all foure, of all things lesse and more, 
Which they all, or any of all, maried fore. 


&ORSOOTH, (said my friend), this matter 

maketh bost 

Of diminution, For here is a mill post, 
Thwitten to a pudding prick so neerely, 
That I confesse me discouraged cleerely. 
In both my weddings, in all things, except one : 
This sparke of hope have I, to proceed upon. 
Though these and some other, speed ill, as ye tell, 
Yet other have lived and loved full well. 
If I should deny that, (quoth I), I should rave : 
For of both these sorts, I grant, that my self have 


Scene of the tone sort, and heard of the tother, 
That liked and lived right well, each with other. 
But whether fortune will you, that man declare, 
That shall choose in this choice, your comfort or care. 
Since, before ye have chosen, we cannot know, 
I thought to lay the worst, as ye the best show, 
That ye might, being yet at libertie, 
With all your joy, joyne all your jeopardie. 
And now in this heard, in these cases on each part, 
I say no more, but lay your hand on your hart. 
I hartily thanke you (quoth he), I am sped 
Of mine errand. This hitteth the naile on the hed? 
Who that leaveth suretie and leaveth unto chaunce, 
When fooles pipe y by authoritie he may daunce. 
And sure am I of those twaine, if I none choose, 
Although I nought winne, yet shall I nought loose. 
And to win a woman here, and lose a man, 
In all this great winning what gain will I than ? 

2 Hitteth the naile on the hed. 

In an old anonymous play " my lord Cardinals players " are 
introduced, and in answer to the question as to what pieces com 
pose their repertory, they reply : 

Divers, my lord, The Cradle of Security, 

Hit nail o' th 7 head, Impatient Poverty, 

The Play of Four P's, Dives and Lazarus, 

Lusty Juventus, and the Marriage of Wit and Wisdom. 



But marke how follie'hath me away caried : 
How like a weathercock I have here varied. 
First these two women to loose I was loth, 
That if I might, I would have wedded them both. 
Then thought I since, to have wedded one of them : 
And now know I cleere, I will wed none of them. 
They both shall have this one answere by letter ; 
As good never a whit, as new the better. 

Now let me aske, (quoth I), and your selfe answere, 

The short question that I asked while ere, 

A foule old rich widow, whether wed would ye, 

Or a yong faire maide, being poore as ye be. 

In neither barrel better herring? (quoth he) ; 

I like thus riches as ill as povertie. 

Who that hath either of these pigges in me, 

He hath a pigge of the worse panier sure. 

3 In neither barrel better herring. 

An elliptical way of saying that no one barrel contains herrings 
better than another. An early instance of its use occurs in a 
work of Bishop Bale, 

Lyke Lord, lyke chaplayne, neyther barrel better herynge. 

Kynge John. 

Again in BURTON'S Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621 : Begin 
where you will, you shall find them all alike, never a barrell the 
better herring. 


I was wedded unto my will. Howbeit, 

I will be divorst and wed to my wit. 

Whereby with these examples past, I may see, 

Fond wedding, for love, as good onely to flee. 

Onely for love, or onely for good, 

Or onely for both I wed not, by my hood. 

Thus no one thing onely, though one thing chieflie 

Shall woo me to wed now : for now I espie, 

Although the chiefe one thing in wedding be love, 

Yet must moe things joyne, as all in one may move, 

Such kinde of living, for such kinde of life, 

As lacking the same, no lack to lack a wife. 

Here is enough, I am satisfied, (sayd he). 

Since enough is enough, (sayd I), here may we 

With that one word take end good, as may be geast : 

For folke say, enough is as good as a feast* 

4 Enough is as good as a feast. 

It is an olde proverb He is well at ese y* hath enough and can 
say ho. He hath enough, holy doctours say, to whom his tem- 
porall godes be they never soo fewe suffisen to him and to his, 
to fynde them that them nedyth. Dives andPauper, 1493. 
And of enough enough, and nowe no more, 
Bycause my braynes no better can devise : 
When thinges be badde, a small summe maketh store 
So of suche verse a fewe may soone suffice ; 
Yet still to this my weary penne replyes. 
That I sayde last, and though like it least, 
It is enough and as good as a feast. 

GASCOIGNE'S Memories, 1575. 





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' In barbarous age, 
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AGE, 1848-56. The First Tidings Scientific Fears, and General Enthusiasm 
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Golden Age in California and Australia Life at the Mines. A RETROSPECT. 
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Bacon (Francis, Lord) Works, both English and Latin, 
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Dante The Divina Commedia, translated into English 
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Magic and Astro logy Grant (James) The 

Mysteries of all Nations : Rise and Progress of Superstition, 
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The Costumes of all Nations, Ancient and Modern, 
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Dryderis Dramatic Works, Library Edition, with Notes 
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Lithographic Views faithfully reproduced from the originals, with 
new and complete history of each Mansion, by Anderson, 4 vols 
in 2, imperial 410, cloth extra, gilt edges (pub 6 6s), 2 los, 

Richardson's (Samuel) Works, Library Edition, with 
Biographical Criticism by Leslie Stephen, portrait, 12 vols, 8vo, 
cloth extra, impression strictly limited to 750 copies (pub 6 6s), 
2 55, London. 

Sent Carriage Free to any part of the United Kingdom on 
receipt of Postal Order for the amount. 

JOHN GRANT, 25 & 34 George IT. Bridge, Edinburgh. 

- _. . . _ 


Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 



MY 12 $5-8 


07 '90 

LD 21-100m-9,'47(A5702sl6)476